Dark Red Forest documents the spartan and secluded lives of nuns from the Yarchen Gar Monastery as they brave both the harsh elements and an encroaching political intolerance towards their religious practice. Numbering more than ten thousand, the nuns congregate over the Tibetan New Year for sermons and instructions from a guru, having over the preceding winter — during the coldest hundred days of the year, specifically — lived in isolation across the Tibetan Plateau, segregated in wooden huts for meditation and spiritual retreat. Draped in dark red robes, they lend the film its title: a community of practitioners seeking enlightenment and attaining it through months and years of solemn routine. — Jin’s camera surveys the forbidding plateau landscape, littered with the huts of nuns deep in retreat. There’s an arresting beauty and profundity in this impressive and expansive silence. — For the most part, Dark Red Forest commits to sociological survey, observing but never interrogating the nuns’ habits, ranging from the metaphysical to the medicinal.
Morris Yang, In Review Online
Dark Red Forest is completely dedicated to how the collective chase for spiritual conviction tends to suppress notions of individuality. Of course, because becoming a monk in Tibet is considered one of the noblest pursuits, the nuns are openly accepting of this sacrifice. The sea of crimson robes all moving in unison represent this theme in the most cinematic of ways.
Glenn Heath Jr., The Film Stage