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The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom (2010)

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Fifty years after the fall of his country, can the Dalai Lama make a breakthrough in his efforts to find a solution to the Tibet question?


Ritu Sarin (co-director), Tenzing Sonam (co-director)


Tenzing Sonam



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The Dalai Lama ... Self


Fifty years after the fall of his country, can the Dalai Lama make a breakthrough in his efforts to find a solution to the Tibet question?

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Tibetans tell it like it is as Chinese take a dim view of the telling
29 November 2014 | by Barev2013See all my reviews

The Sun Behind the Clouds": Tibet's Struggle for Freedom" viewed at the LA Indian film festival, 2012, was made by Tibetan/Indian filmmakers Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin to commemorate the half century since the Dalai Lama's enforced flight from Tibet in 1960 to Dharamsala, India, where he set up a Tibetan government in exile. Ever since, His Holiness has traveled all over the world to promote the cause of Tibetan independence and peace in general, being treated everywhere with the kind of reverence usually reserved for living saints like Mahatma Ghandi in--revered by everyone except the Chinese, who regard him as an upstart, troublemaker, and enemy of the (Chinese) People.

The current film, covers a long freedom march in 2009 made by the Tibetans of Dharamsala to Lhasa (they never got there), features a number of direct interviews with the Dalai Lama in various world cities, Tibetan protests against the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Chinese counter-protesters, and numerous interviews with Tibetan residents of China proper who were imprisoned for daring to speak out against the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the suppression of Tibetan culture.

With a total population of around six million as opposed to the billion plus of the Chinese, most Tibetans realize that full independence for Tibet is not a very realistic goal and even the DL himself has pulled back to a milder position, which he calls a Middle Road, where at least religious autonomy would be granted the Tibetans, and the Dalai Lama would be permitted to return as their religious leader. This Middle of the Road position has caused a split among Tibetans themselves -- those who crave full independence at any cost, and those willing to follow the DL in accepting Chinese dominion with certain concessions. Meanwhile the Chinese have flooded Tibet with "Han" settlers to the point where the Tibetans have become a numerical minority in their own country, much as the Gringos flooded the Mexican state of 'Tejas' at one time to overwhelm the locals and turn it into the solid American American state of Texas. Even the Dalai Lama's currently more moderate stance is unacceptable to the Chinese as they consider him to be a walking excuse for a revolution if they ever let him back in.

Rare, undoubtedly smuggled footage, shows violent protests against the Chinese occupiers in the capital, Lhasa, and their brutal suppression by PRC troops. While this film is clearly a call for sympathy for the cause of Tibetan freedom, through stock footage easily available from Chinese TV we also see very articulate Chinese political commentators clearly stating the Chinese position on their need to retain Tibet as an integral part of China. All in all this 79 minute film is so compactly organized that it seems to be twice that long, offering a full course on "Imperialist China, 101, 2010" as well as a solid history of Tibet since the Chinese intrusion of 1950. Older viewers may hear faint echoes of a time when a guy named Adolph convinced the West that he needed a small country called Czechoslovakia to protect the German residents living there. The Tenzing-Sarin duo made a feature film in 2005 entitled "Dreaming Lhasa" which attracted some festival attention, but "The Sun Behind the Clouds" (A reference to the hope that one day Freedom will again come to Tibet) is a far stronger piece of work that soars high in the skies of documentary film making here in the first decade of the XXIst century. It needs to be widely seen, not only for its deft but chillingly full unveiling of Chinese totalitarianism (which America continues to mollie-coddle), but also as a brilliant piece of documentary film expertise. From here "Sun behind the clouds" goes to the Washington DC film festival and looks like it is going to have long festival legs in the months to come

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January 2010 (USA) See more »

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The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom See more »


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Opening Weekend USA:

$10,884, 4 April 2010

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