2013/Sonam Wangdue, VOT/India/40min/Documentary
Banned Expression: Support Free Speech in Tibet is an awareness campaign focusing on the Right to Freedom of Opinion, Expression and Information in Tibet.
The Dialogue documents the attempt by a group of Chinese intellectuals to circumvent the restrictive measures in place in China that prevent Chinese citizens from having free contact with the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled leader. Using internet technologies they take the first step in establishing such a dialogue. This film delves into the hostile fissures that separate nationalities within the modern People’s Republic of China. Most poignantly it includes footage of Uyghur scholar and human rights advocate Ilham Tohti discussing that divide. Appointed a visiting scholar at Indiana University in 2013, Ilham was seized at the Bejing airport before departure and forbidden to leave China. He was subjected to periods of house arrest and harassment until his re-arrest on January 15, 2014. He is accused of separatism and support for terrorism. The charges and ensuing trial are meant to silence him, making his appearance in The Dialogue that much more significant and wrenching.
On a mountaineering tour in the Himalaya, Johanna meets the eight-year-old Tempa in a Tibetan monastery, where she grants the request of an old abbot to bring the boy secretly to Lhasa. Upon arriving in the capital, Johanna realizes that Tempa and a group of other Tibetan children are to be brought without any equipment over a dangerous high-mountain pass to Nepal. When the Chinese police gets wind of the plan, Johanna is suddenly suspected of collaborating with the charismatic leader of the trek, Tashi. Torn between her sense of responsibility to help Tempa and a justified fear for her own life, Johanna decides to go with the group.
This is the story of a mountain pass at nearly 6,000 meters on the border between Tibet and Nepal. For thousands of Tibetan refugees, it has been the gateway to freedom – for many others it has been a fatal gauntlet. It is the life story of Kelsang Jigme, a legend among guides who help refugees escape over the pass. It is the story of six children sent by their parents into exile across the highest mountain range in the world, and of their parents who had to stay back in Tibet. It is a story of imprisonment and torture – and the allegory of a love that knows no borders.
Leaving Fear Behind is a heroic film shot by Tibetans from inside Tibet, who longed to bring Tibetan voices to the Beijing Olympic Games. With the global spotlight on China as it rises to host the XXIX Olympics, Tibetans wish to tell the world of their plight and their heartfelt grievances against Chinese rule. The footage was smuggled out of Tibet under extraordinary circumstances. The filmmakers were detained soon after sending their tapes out, and remain in detention today.
2005/Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam/India,UK/85min/Fiction
Karma, a Tibetan filmmaker from New York, goes to Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama’s exile headquarters in northern India, to make a documentary about former political prisoners who have escaped from Tibet. She wants to reconnect with her roots but is also escaping a deteriorating relationship back home. One of Karma’s interviewees is Dhondup, an enigmatic ex-monk who has just escaped from Tibet. He confides in her that his real reason for coming to India is to fulfill his dying mother’s last wish, to deliver a charm box to a long-missing resistance fighter. Karma finds herself unwittingly falling in love with Dhondup even as she is sucked into the passion of his quest, which becomes a journey into Tibet’s fractured past and a voyage of self-discovery.