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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Nepal film festival gives China culture shock

December 10, 2007

Sudeshna Sarkar
Indo Asian News Service

Kathmandu, Dec 8, 2007 - Assured of Nepal's new government's support for
its 'One China' policy and refusal to acknowledge Tibet or Taiwan as
separate nations, China nonetheless is about to get a rude shock from an
expected quarters - a film festival.

One of Kathmandu's much-acclaimed festivals, the Kathmandu International
Mountain Film Festival hosted by Himal Association, that kicked off in
the capital Friday includes four films related to Tibet, of which three
are certainly going to be anathema to Beijing.

On Sunday, the City Hall will screen 'Dalai Lama Renaissance', the new
documentary on the exiled Tibetan leader's meetings with western
thinkers like quantum physicist FredAlan Wolf and social scientist Jean
Houston.

Directed by Khashyar Darivch, narrated by Bollywood icon Harrison Ford
and released only this summer, the documentary will draw fresh attention
to the Nobel peace laureate who recently ruffled the Chinese
government's feathers saying he would announce the name of his
successor, which would outmanoeuvre Beijing's bid to control his heir,
like they have with another Tibetan leader, the Panchen Lama.

For a succession of Nepal governments, who have wanted good relations
with their giant northern neighbour China, the Dalai Lama virtually
doesn't exist. Under King Gyanendra's influence, the government closed
the office of the Dalai Lama's representative in Kathmandu and has
refused to let it re-open.

Three years ago, when Nepal hosted a Buddhist conference at Lumbini, the
birthplace of the Buddha in south Nepal, the Dalai Lama was not invited
though the heads of other Buddhist states were.

To rub salt into Beijing's wound, the mountain film festival will screen
'Dreaming Lhasa' Monday.

Made by the husband-wife team of Tibetan exile Tenzing Sonam and Indian
Ritu Sarin, the film depicts the plight of the exiled Tibetan community
in India and has been hailed as the first major feature film by a
Tibetan to deal with contemporary Tibet.

In 2005, China tried to pressure the organisers of the Toronto
International Film Festival to remove 'Dreaming Lhasa'. Though the
organisers refused, Beijing had more success at the Pusan International
Film Festival in South Korea the same year when though initially chosen
for screening, 'Dreaming Lhasa' was dropped at the last moment with no
explanation.

When the film premiered in the US in April, to combat it, the Chinese
government promoted 'The Silent Holy Stones' - that though made by a
well-regarded Tibetan filmmaker within Tibet, can be used as Chinese
propaganda.

On Tuesday, 'Miss Tibet' directed by Dutch Siebout Leseur van Leeuwen
will draw attention to the defiant beauty pageant that is held at
Dharamsala, the seat of the Dalai Lama, in India every year.

Beijing has been trying to prevent the winner of the title from taking
part in other beauty contests, saying Miss China is the legitimate
contender.
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