TANKA means, literally, “a thing rolled up”. TANKA, photographed from Tibetan scroll paintings of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, is a cyclical vision of ancient gods and demons, an animated journey through the image world of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The film was originally produced on 16mm film and has been meticulously restored. Now available via download and streaming as well as on DVD.
Produced and directed by David Lebrun. Original score by Ashish Khan (sarod), Buddy Arnold (saxophone, clarinet, flute), Pranesh Khan (tablas), and Francisco Lupica (percussion). 2004 film preservation and digital audio restoration by Center for Visual Music with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation. 2015 digital image restoration by David Lebrun and Night Fire Films.
9 minutes / Color / Sound
“With his dazzling TANKA David Lebrun has filmed a series of Tibetan paintings of mythological subjects and then programmed his footage into an optical printer to create the illusion of animation. The dazzling, vibrantly colored result is a series of dancing gods, wild revels, raging fires and sea battles between monsters.”
— Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
“TANKA is brilliantly powered by the insight that Tibetan religious paintings are intended to be perceived not as in repose but as in constant movement. Lebrun has created the illusion of motion in this painted world. The water and flowers seem to dip and sway, the birds to fly, and the god to move his arms sinuously.”
— Edgar Daniel, American Film