Bombay Times

‘Festival Of Films On Tibet Next Week’
by Staff Reporter (Bombay Times. August 13, 1999)

There was a time when Tibetan monks used to stage silent candle light marches in the city to mark the day of Tibet's invasion by China, and it went almost unnoticed. Now a pressure group called Friends of Tibet (INDIA) has been formed to regularly disseminate information about the Tibetan cause and the human rights violations by China.

To focus on their cause, the group which receives several hundred hits a day on its website, has organised a film festival and a photo exhibition next week. The film festival which opens at the Little Theatre on August 18 has four films including Martin Scorsese's internationally acclaimed Kundun, based on the life of the Dalai Lama.

Kundun, which literally means 'presence,' traces the story of Tenzin Gyatso, the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet, from his divine recognition as a two-and-a-half-year-old child to the day when Tibet was invaded by the Chinese Red Army in 1959, forcing him to live in exile in Dharamsala. The film charts the extraordinary growth of Dalai Lama from a giggling child into a world leader who raised the global consciousness about the Buddhist society, and the plight of Tibet and its people. The film has an evocative music score by Philip Glass.

Scorsese, who has films like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Good Fellas to his credit, was forced to film in Morocco after the Chinese authorities refused him permission to enter Tibet.

The package includes two documentaries and a feature film. The 110-minute documentary Tibet In India was shot during the inauguration of the new main monastery of the Drekung Kargu School of Tibetan Buddhism near Derah Dun. The film includes some rare lama dances and historical footage. The 120-minute The Knowledge Of Healing directed by Franz Reichle deals with Tibetan medicine. Also included is Jean-Jacques Annaud's feature film Seven Years In Tibet, which traces the adventurous escape of a prisoner of war from a POW camp in India, and his journey into Tibet and subsequent friendship with the Dalai Lama. Based on a book by Heinrich Harrer, the film features Hollywood hearthrob Brad Pitt in the lead role.

Simultaneously with the film festival, a photo exhibition titled 'Free Spirits: Tibet In Exile' by British photojournalist Diane Barker will open at the Piramal Gallery. The exhibition is the culmination of Barker's several visits to Tibetan refugee centres in India and Nepal since 1994. The exhibition records the Tibetan community in exile, and the struggle for survival of a culture recreated in India and Nepal.

This will be the first public programme organised by Friends of Tibet. The group plans to organise a bigger festival in the year 2000 which will include seminars and Tibetan music programmes.