Interviews and Screenings in London

Back in New York.

London was a whirlwind visit. We had a live discussion with Geeta Guru Murthy on BBC World TV’s Impact Asia programme. This was both nerve-racking and strangely comfortable. We’ve watched so many BBC World news broadcasts, watched Geeta herself read the news so many times, and seen so many guests sit around that same table that when we were finally ushered into the studio and made to take our places, we felt like actors in a familiar play.

Geeta stressed what is now becoming a point that is raised again and again with our film; the contradiction between His Holiness’ Middle Way Approach and those wanting a return to the goal of independence. We explained that this division did not imply a breakdown in His Holiness’ leadership or a shift in the faith of the Tibetan people in his authority but rather, that more and more Tibetans were realising that the present Chinese regime was simply not going to negotiate with him, and was waiting for him to pass away, and therefore, there was a pressing need for alternative options to be raised. The desire for independence, a goal that all Tibetans have always harboured, was a natural expression of the frustration that all of us felt. I also made the point that in the longer term, this maybe the only aspiration that can ensure that our movement remains strong and unified. You can watch the interview at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MSarQ_r1iY

We also did a long discussion on the BBC World Service’s arts and culture programme, The Strand. The guest in the studio before us was none other than David Byrne! As long-term Talking Heads fans (I saw my first Heads concert in Hollywood in 1981, and Ritu and I watched them again in Berkeley in 1983), this was an unexpected honour to come face to face with him! Ritu introduced us and told him that were his fans and got him to sign an autograph for our son Mila, who is also a Heads fan. Ritu also told him about our film’s screening at the Film Forum and he said he would come! The radio discussion was in-depth and touched upon many areas that we had raised in the film. The show will go out this week and we will post it on the film’s Facebook site.

On Friday evening, we had the Closing Night screening of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival at the Ritzy in Brixton. This was familiar stamping grounds for us from the days when we lived in London. We’ve spent many a long night in these parts and still have close friends who live here, a number of who turned out to support us. It was a fantastic screening at the Ritzy’s restored old cinema. The hall was packed, and the high def projection was excellent. At the panel discussion after the screening, Isabel Hilton moderated with insight and flair. Dr Kerry Brown from Chatham House, His Holiness’s representative Thubten Samdup, Ritu and I spoke about various aspects of the difficult situation Tibet faces at the moment. Sadly, because of time constraints, the discussion was cut short and we couldn’t take any questions from the audience. But at the reception afterwards at the Ritzy’s bar, we did manage to speak to some of the people in the audience. A young woman from Lithuania told me that the Tibet situation reminded her of her country’s recent history and that the important thing was not to lose hope. Another woman from the Czech Republic told me that she had seen the film at the One World Festival in Prague and had come to see it again to show her solidarity. It’s interesting that the people who seem to really understand what Tibet is going through are people from the former communist states of Eastern Europe. Our thanks goes to John Biaggi of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival and his excellent team for supporting our film and highlighting it at the festival.

On Saturday, the Tibet Society, Students for a Free Tibet (UK) and the Tibetan Community of Great Britain organised a screening at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square. We had a great turnout, with many Tibetans in attendance. The response of the audience was really moving. We were really encouraged by the fact that so many young Tibetans told us afterwards that they thought the film really expressed what they were feeling. But more than anything, the response of a young Tibetan woman from Lhasa who was deeply moved by the film, meant everything to us.

Now it’s back to New York and all focus is on the Film Forum opening!