Taking Sun Across the States

Back in Delhi after two hectic months of travelling with the film in the US and Europe. It was an exciting trip: great screenings, positive audience feedback, and the opportunity along the way to catch up with old friends and make many new ones. And through it all, we had many discussions on the Tibet issue and heard many different perspectives and opinions that were both challenging and illuminating. One thing became clear to us: Tibetans everywhere are impatiently waiting for some clear direction on the future of the movement. Although this sense of anticipation expressed itself most pressingly in the continuing debate over whether to continue with the Middle Way Approach or to go with independence, it became evident that this was only the beginning of a much larger and more complex process, one that requires the active and meaningful participation of all Tibetans. Hopefully, our film has served, and will continue to serve, as a platform to propel this discussion into a more public and engaged forum.

After the Film Forum screenings in New York, our first stop was Seattle where the film had a one-week engagement at SIFF Cinema, the theatre run by the Seattle International Film Festival. We stayed with our old friends Jim Simon and his wife Lori Fujimoto who we have known from our student days in the Bay Area. Jim, who was with me at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, has followed his journalistic passion and is now the assistant managing editor of the Seattle Times. Two other friends from our Berkeley days, Steve Evans and Monica Fletcher came over from Port Townsend, so it was quite a reunion. This happy gathering was further enlivened by the arrival of our good friends, Tsering Shakya and his wife Lhamo, who drove down from Vancouver.

From Seattle we flew to Minneapolis to attend the Minneapolis-St Paul International Film Festival. This was our first visit to the city and we were excited to be here, having heard so much about its burgeoning Tibetan population, estimated to be around 3000. We managed to pay a quick visit to the local community centre and were impressed by the efforts of the Tibetans here to find ways of keeping our cultural identity alive. We had a packed screening followed by a lively discussion at a local bar with a number of Tibetan activists and supporters. Then it was on to Los Angeles. The Indian Film Festival of LA is the biggest such festival in the US and is efficiently organised with a number of high profile events. The screening at the impressive Hollywood Arclight cinema complex was well attended and co-presented by the Tibetan Association of Southern California and the LA Friends of Tibet. We found out after we left the festival that the film had won the Audience Award! Next stop was the Washington DC International Film Festival, where we caught up with many old friends from our Dharamsala days. Our thanks goes to the International Campaign for Tibet who helped us with the outreach, not only here but throughout our US run. Our last destination was Boston, where the film had a one-week run at the beautiful old Coolidge Corner Theater. Once again, we met up with several friends from Dharamsala. Nearly all the people we knew in Dharamsala in the 90s and early noughties have ended up in the US!

Now, it’s a short moment of rest and respite before we launch into the next phase of our journey with the film. The Sun Behind the Clouds opens in the Bay Area on June 18 and then moves on to LA, Santa Fe, Denver and Boulder, with other venues to be added. Thank you to all the friends, organisations, supporters and well-wishers who came out to promote and support our film. We look forward to continuing this adventure with you!