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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?"

Tibet Visits Harlem ahead of Invasion Anniversary

March 5, 2009

'Distorted Propaganda' brings to life a little thought-about but inescapable aspect of life under Communist rule: the ever-present propaganda. (
By Christine Lin
Epoch Times (USA)
March 3, 2009

NEW YORK -- The Maysles Cinema in Harlem this week is running a variety of short documentaries celebrating -- and to a certain degree, mourning -- the culture of Tibet.

Next Tuesday is March 10, the day 50 years ago that Tibetans launched an uprising against Chinese occupation. On its anniversary, Tibetans will spend the time in somber remembrance of those who have lost their lives and freedom under Communist rule.

The discussion of Tibetan culture can unfortunately no longer be separated from Communist efforts to subvert it. The films emanate both the internal strength of everyday Tibetans and the vileness of injustices that are being perpetrated upon them.

The series of 15 films shown this week carries that bittersweet tone. The theater shows two short pieces a night, each one unique in tone and content, connected only by its relevance to modern Tibet's realities.

The Maysles Cinema's small community showing room is a place where homegrown gems of social import find voice. Maysles Institute was formed to honor and preserve the work of Albert and David Maysles, documentary filmmakers and teachers who were behind works such as Salesman, Gimme Shelter and Grey Gardens. Part of the Institute's goal is to train film students in the Maysles tradition.

Some of the films shown at the Maysles Cinema are not products of experienced filmmakers, but each is extraordinary in its own right.

A 25-minute piece titled Leaving Fear Behind is a collection of comments from ordinary Tibetans on their feelings about the Olympic Games recorded as the Games were approaching. Neither of the film's directors, Dhondup Wangchen and his assistant Golog Jigme, are professional filmmakers. After traveling Tibet by train for their documentary, they passed the footage off to a friend in Beijing, who smuggled them to Switzerland for editing just as the March 10 riots exploded into an affair that drew international attention. For this film, Wangchen is now in custody though the footage of all his 108 interviews is safe overseas.

Another brings to life a little thought-about but inescapable aspect of life under Communist rule: the ever-present propaganda. In Distorted Propaganda, amateur filmmaker Jeff Lodas explores the dual meanings behind such euphemistic terms as “liberation," “religious re-education,” and “progress.” In the film, Lodas offers little commentary of its own, but lets the viewer see the irony of the propaganda for himself.

The two films' websites are and For more about the Institute and viewing schedules, please visit their website, or call (212) 582-6050. Suggested donation is $7.
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