The Dossier (2014) Directed by Zhu Rikun (128mins)
Ten years ago, Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser’s efforts to document and present The reality of Tibet was considered a “political problem” by the Party-state. She was fired from her job when she turned down the “request” to confess and correct these “problems”. Since then, she has persevered as an independent writer, and has continued to speak out for the sufferings of Tibetan people. Ever since the disturbance in Lhasa took place in 2008 and as the number of self-immolations among Tibetan people has risen dramatically, her writing and her blog have become an important channel for the world to see Tibet. But despite being acknowledged for her efforts, her personal life and freedom have been seriously disturbed.
As an unexpected event, we came into possession of Woeser’s official dossier which then became the main thread of this film. Through this lengthy and dull dossier, we see how a supposedly well-shaped screw and successor of the Chinese communist cause went off the premade track in reality.
Has she obtained freedom?
Tibetan Warrior (2015) Directed by Dodo Hunziker (84mins)
Tibetan Warrior is the true story of one man's fight for freedom. For more than 60 years Tibetans have been fighting Chinese oppression. But their non-violent struggle appears to be in vain. Now, as a new form of peaceful protest, Tibetans are setting themselves on fire. Loten Namling – an exiled Tibetan and musician living in Switzerland – is deeply disturbed by such self-destructive action. So he sets off from Europe to India, on a one-man mission to meet top politicians, experts and young radicals. He himself becomes increasingly radical and is on the verge of violent protest. Finally he ends up at The Office of the Dalai Lama in India to seek the advice of the exiled Tibetan leader.
Quotes from the film:
Violence always leads to disaster.
There is no alternative to dialogue with the
Truth is on our side – and ours is a struggle for
Loten Namling | Central character
The situation in Tibet must change. Otherwise
our culture will be destroyed.
The international community is backing China
because countries crave for economic gain.
The Free Trade Agreement between Switzerland
and China does not once mention Human Rights.
More than 130 people have self-immolated. For
them it would have been easier to blow themselves
up with a bomb at a Chinese market.
I am absolutely against terrorism, but the world
seems to listen only to violence.
Sometimes things are so bad, that to stop bad
people, you have to act like the bad people..
Still Tibet (2015) Directed by Miguel Cano (60 mins)
Independent journalist Miguel Cano recently spent a month walking in the most remote, ethnically Tibetan areas of the Tibetan plateau in Sichuan Province, sleeping in monasteries and talking to locals. Although foreign visitors can ostensibly travel freely within Tibet, in reality Cano was regularly detained by Chinese police, sometimes for several hours while an English-speaking officer was fetched to ask basic questions and impress upon him their concern for his welfare. Despite the heavy official presence, Cano still found much to remind the visitor of the region’s Tibetan history.
Cano jutting into your reality. He travels by hitch-hiking (there are parts where he even rides in a tractor), mocks the Chinese police, visits places that had been banned to him after being arrested nine times.
Through magnificent soundtrack, connecting the story with images that cannot be reflected in a thousand words, the film manages to extract strong emotions in the viewer and transmit to him the feelings of the Tibetan people. There is still something of Tibet in occupied Tibet; this message struck a chord in a very large audience, who at the end of the film greeted him with a “very long” and deserved applause.
The documentary will be very successful and will collect awards where presented. Cano’s idea is to use the film as a tool to raise awareness by displaying it in Human Rights Festivals. We have to congratulate MA Cano for his work, his audacity and prostrate for the dignity of his intentions.
Meltdown Tibet (2009) Directed by Michael Buckley (60mis)
Using undercover footage and stills, Meltdown in Tibet blows the lid off China's huge and potentially catastrophic dam-building projects in Tibet. The mighty rivers sourced in Tibet are lifelines to the people of India and Southeast Asia. These rivers are at great risk from rapidly receding glaciers—a meltdown accelerated by climate change—and from large-scale damming and diversion, due to massive Chinese engineering projects. To make way for these hydropower projects and for mining ventures, Tibetan nomads are being forced off their traditional grassland habitat—and resettled in bleak villages, where they cannot make a decent living.
The film raises some disturbing questions about a looming eco-disaster. If Himalayan glaciers vanish, what will happen to the rivers of Tibet? What is the fate of people in nations downstream that depend on those rivers? Why is China building so many large dams on the Tibetan plateau? What on earth are China's engineers getting up to?
Nomad to Nobody (2011) Directed by Michael Buckley (55mins)
From Nomad to Nobody was filmed mainly in the Kham region of eastern Tibet, using a small hand-held HD videocam to keep a low profile. The mountainous Kham region is home to the hard-headed Khampa nomads, famed for their bravery and bravado, for their horsemanship, and for their fierce sense of independence. The first part of the documentary takes in the action at several horse-racing festivals near Litang, in Kham. Other locations in the documentary include central Tibet, Kathmandu (Nepal) and Dharamsala (northwest India).
Motivated by previous travels to Tibet, the narrator sets off on a personal quest, focusing on the fast-disappearing Tibetan nomad culture. Why are the nomads being forcibly relocated by Chinese officials? Why are they are being shifted off their traditional grazing lands into concrete ghettos? In these settlement camps, nomads are marginalised and have little chance of making a decent living, or finding a new profession. Previously, when grazing yaks, they were self-sufficient and lived in an entirely sustainable way. Now, they are unemployed, and dependent on the Chinese government for hand-outs—and for food.
Between 1995 and 2015, official Chinese policy has targeted the removal of more than two million Tibetan nomads from their land for settlement. In an era where sustainability is the mantra, Chinese policy makes no sense. This re-settlement policy is designed to wipe out nomad culture and its strong connections to traditional Tibetan values. Nomads are the stewards of the vast grasslands of Tibet—they have been grazing these lands with their yaks for close on 4,000 years. Without the nomads, the grasslands (already affected by climate change) will further deteriorate and turn into desert. This could have global impact, as these grasslands constitute an important carbon sink.
What are the motives behind China's forcible settlement of Tibetan nomads on such a huge scale? Why are Chinese mining and dam-building companies moving into the same grassland regions? What happens to nomads after shifting to a semi-urban environment? What happens if they try to mount protests? What does the future hold for the vast grasslands of Tibet? These are questions the documentary sets out to explore, in this personal take on the plight of Tibetan nomads.
Himalaya (1999) Directed by Eric Valli (120mins)
Himalaya is a 1999 Nepalese movie directed by Eric Valli and was funded through France-based corporations. It was the first Nepalese film to be nominated in the Best Foreign Film category at the 72nd Academy Awards.
Himalaya is a story set against the backdrop of the Nepalese Himalayas. At an altitude of five thousand metres in the remote mountain region of Dolpa, Himalaya is the story of villagers who take a caravan of yaks across the mountains, carrying rock salt from the high plateau down to the lowlands to trade for grain. An annual event, the caravan provides the grain that the villagers depend on to survive the winter. The film unfolds as a story of rivalry based on misunderstanding and distrust, between the aging chief and the young daring herdsman, who is both a friend and a rival to the chief's family, as they struggle for leadership of the caravan.
The film is a narrative on the both traditions and the impermanent nature of human struggle to retain and express power in the face of the gods. "The gods triumph" is the call that echoes at the end of the film and expresses the balancing of karmic destinies. The extreme environment of the Himalayas is magnificently contrasted to the delicacy of humanity and the beauty of Tibetan culture.
Himalaya was shot in widescreen over nine months on location in a region that can only be reached on foot, with all but two characters played by real chiefs, lamas and local villagers. Director Eric Valli has lived in Nepal since 1983 and is also a photographer and author. His work is regularly published in National Geographic, and Life magazines.
The film depicts not only the life style of the upper Dolpo people of the mid western uphills of Nepal but also their traditional customs, for example celestial burial.