"Everybody is condemning violence, but nobody's doing anything to support non-violence," laments Tibetan exile Lhasang Tsering in Tom Peosay's documentary rallying cry, which urges support for the cause of Tibetan independence before it's too late. Ten years in the making, the film combines archival materials and vivid footage shot in Tibet over the course of nine separate visits, tracing the history of its development into an unusually spiritual culture dominated since the 7th century by Buddhist traditions, and of its contentious modern history. Through extensive interviews with historians, politicians, Tibetan nationalists, Buddhist monks and nuns and the Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, Peosay makes it clear that the crux of the conflict between Tibet and its far larger neighbor, China, lies in starkly conflicting points of view. Either Tibet has traditionally been part of China or it's always been an autonomous nation with a distinct culture, language, religion Buddhist principles inform every aspect of life, from education to government. Tibet's formidable geographical isolation often made the issue moot, but since the beginning of the 20th century outsiders began trickling into "the rooftop of the world," bringing modern technologies and attitudes that sometimes conflicted with age-old traditions. Tibet's real troubles began in 1959, when Mao Tse Tung's newly declared People's Republic of China declared its intention to liberate Tibet's peasants from foreign influences and class-based oppression. Though the country's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, at first hoped that egalitarian communist ideals were compatible with Buddhist practice, within 10 years he was forced into Indian exile and the nation's Buddhist monks and nuns, caretakers of its cultural and spiritual traditions, were under siege. Where other filmmakers might have fashioned an inflammatory polemic witnesses' stories of the torture, murder and systematic marginalization of Tibetans in their own land are painfully provocative Peosay appears to have taken the Dalai Lama's non-violent philosophy to heart. Rather than rage, his film radiates sadness over a singular way of life in danger of imminent obliteration.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: NR
- Review: "Everybody is condemning violence, but nobody's doing anything to support non-violence," laments Tibetan exile Lhasang Tsering in Tom Peosay's documentary rallying cry, which urges support for the cause of Tibetan independence before it's too late. Ten yea… (more)