|On the eve of International Day of Action for Tibet, a courageous filmmaker recounts her brush with the law.
The Dalai Lama is still exiled from his home country (Mark Sullivan/WireImage.com Photo)
By FilmStew Staff
August 7: It seems like an inherent contradiction, the idea that images of the Dalai Lama are banned in Tibet. But despite Chinese authoritarian rule, there is in fact one public picture in Norbulingka, which was secretly filmed by Australian filmmaker Lara Damiani for the upcoming documentary The Tibet Project: No Currency in Compassion
, which she has been working on with Alex Alexander since last November.
Surely, this could have caused problems for the pair had their footage been screened by the Chinese soldier who interrupted their work in Tibet one recent day. This despite the fact that Damiani and Alexander were operating, as they have throughout filming, under the guise of tourists.
"At one point, there was a very real fear that my tapes and camera would be confiscated,” Damiani explains. “We were driving back to Lhasa when we were stopped and questioned by a Chinese soldier for filming a bridge that was being guarded.”
“Even more frightening were the possible consequences for our Tibetan driver and guide,” she continues. “The Chinese Government has such obvious control in Tibet and an oppressive and overbearing military presence."
China invaded Tibet in 1950, overthrowing the Tibetan government who now operate in exile in India. Since then, more than a million Tibetans have been killed, and their cause has been taken up by celebrities such as Richard Gere. Parts of the documentary have also been filmed in India, Australia and China, with plans to release it on DVD and sell it to international TV broadcasters.
Wednesday, August 8th is International Day of Action for Tibet. Supporters of the country worldwide are throwing down a gauntlet of sorts, flagging it on the calendar as the portentious beginning of a one-year countdown to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.