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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Dharamsala Dispatch: Tibetan Film Festival

October 28, 2013

‘Dharamsala Dispatch’ is a series of notes from in and around Dharamsala, covering the Tibetan artistic and cultural scene through reports and interviews with prominent Tibetans involved in community events.

Dharamsala Dispatch is written by Eva Cirnu, Coordinator of the Canada Tibet Committee’s francophone section.

October 20, 2013 - As a novice documentary filmmaker and a (not so novice) Tibet activist, I could not have hoped for a better start for the ‘Dharamsala Dispatch’ series! In fact, as the series debuts, I have had the privilege of attending one of Dharamsala’s most prominent contemporary Tibetan cultural events: the annual Tibet Film Festival, held simultaneously in Dharamsala and Zurich.

The Festival, now at its 5th edition, was started in 2008 and is dedicated to Dhondup Wangchen, imprisoned shortly after the release of his internationally-acclaimed documentary film ‘Leaving Fear Behind’.

“Film is a powerful medium of communication. Over the last few years we have seen a crackdown by China on various Tibetan artists in Tibet. This festival not only highlights the significance of filmmaking but also encourages and admires the work like that of Dhondup Wongchen, to whom this festival is dedicated”, said Tenzin Jigdal, Program Director of Students for a Free Tibet (India), one of the event organizers.

Indeed, the Festival selection included beautiful and moving films which shared an underlying sense of urgency and an activist tone. A campaign calling for Wongchen’s safe release was launched during the festival (

During this year’s Dharamsala edition, the audience was delighted by much more than just an excellent documentary selection: the Festival also held a short-film competition, panel discussions, as well as live music and dance performances. As usual, the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts proved to be an ideal setting, providing the large and enthusiastic crowd with a unique setting overlooking the Kangra Valley.

And now for the best part: all of this year’s selected films are available on the Festival’s website (, so you haven’t missed your chance to watch them! Enjoy the movies and be sure to follow up by joining the campaign for Dhondup’s liberation. And please share this note with anyone interested in good movies, good stories, good causes and all other things Tibetan. 

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