The Telegraph

‘Chinese 'Chokers' Target Tibet Films’
(by Chandrima S Bhattacharya | The Telegraph | August 18, 2004)

The Chinese government has extended its arm to a Mumbai film festival to choke the cause of Tibet, claims a Tibet support group. A package of films on Tibet has been dropped from the Asian Film Festival in Mumbai as a result of direct pressure from Chinese embassy officials, said Aspi Mistry, spokesperson for Friends of Tibet.

Initially, they were told that two films, Kundun by Martin Scorsese and Seven Years in Tibet by Jean-Jacques Annaud, would be dropped, Mistry said. Now, the entire package of five films that was to be screened has been dropped. The others are Himalaya, Little Buddha and The Cup, the last made by a Bhutanese monk.

Sudhir Nandgaonkar, the director of the Asian Film Festival, admitted that Chinese officials were in touch with him over the Tibet package. "Last month, the Chinese consulate contacted me and said they had learned on the Net that there was to be a screening of certain films at the festival that they objected to. They also informed me that they would get in touch with the Centre and register their protest over the films," he said. But he denied that the films were dropped because of their objections. "The deadline for submitting films to the festival, which starts on August 21, ended one and a half months ago. The Tibetan films reached us only on August 5"

Friends of Tibet claimed the deadline was never mentioned in their discussions about the festival and it was an excuse to drop the films. They said Nandgaonkar had told them he was afraid that not only the Tibet package, but the festival would be in jeopardy if the Chinese were not obliged.