Director's Statement

In 2008 Gene gave me permission to follow him back to India as he set out to deliver, to the main lamas of the four leading Buddhist traditions and the Bon, 12,000 digitized texts of the 20,000 that had been salvaged. These lamas had also spent their lives finding and preserving the texts lost during China’s cultural revolution.

For the next four years we were able to document key turning points of this cultural rescue and international movement through the eyes of its catalyst. We witnessed unexpected setbacks – from salvaged texts ruined by flooding in refugee camps to Tibetan protests during the 2008 Olympics in China setting back 20 years of negotiations and progress with the preservationists.

Throughout Gene’s journey, our film crew had unique access to leaders, locations and communities that could have happened only with Gene’s blessing.

The sudden death of E. Gene Smith in December 2010 was a real-life dramatic twist that has underscored my urgency to tell Gene's remarkable story as soon as possible. The week Gene died, he became the lead obituary in world press such as The New York Times, London’s Telegraph and The Economist, with leading headlines such as “The American Lama who Saved Tibetan Literature.” I am fortunate to have over sixty hours recorded on HD of the text preservation efforts of this gentle giant of diplomacy and now-iconic figure in American/Asian history.

With this feature film, I want viewers to quickly move from asking why to wanting to learn how: how the mission will be accomplished, how it will all turn out, and perhaps even how they – the viewers – might become agents for accomplishing such a purpose in their own lives.