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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?"

Door opens for Tibet film from Dai Wei 'Once Upon a Time in Tibet' to shoot in April

March 26, 2009

By Jonathan Landreth
Hollywood Reporter
March 24, 2009

HONG KONG -- Chinese director Dai Wei will begin
shooting "Once Upon a Time in Tibet" outside
Lhasa in late April with Beijing production
company Stellar Megamodia ("Nanking! Nanking!"),
Rome-based producer Mark Holdom told The Hollywood Reporter.

Holdom said he and Hong Kong actress Charlie
Yeung met with investor Yang Yuen of
Beijing-based Forward Capital here at Filmart and
that the "Bangkok Dangerous" star is "strongly
considering" starring in the film opposite a Western male lead.

As a New Zealander, Holdom thinks he could be the
first Western producer to gain permission to
shoot a feature film in the southwestern
Himalayan reaches of China, where media are
barred or tightly controlled by Beijing because
of ethnic tensions that a year ago erupted into anti-Chinese riots.

(On Monday, Reporters Without Borders condemned
the arrest without charges of 20-year-old Tibetan
writer Kunga Tseyang, who last year helped make
the documentary "Leaving Fear Behind," which
interviews 100 Tibetans about Chinese oppression.)

"We're starting shooting on April 27," said
Holdom, confident that he could also raise
funding from Schmidt & Katze in Germany and
Channel Four in the U.K. "I'm going to show up at
a press conference in Beijing on April 20 with equipment and cash in hand."

Holdom, who boasts a varied background -- he's
worked for Frank Zappa and Tommy Mottola in the
music world -- said Beijing's Film Bureau granted
permission for the film about "romantic
miscommunication" in February. It will employ Tibetan cast and crew, he said.

"It's a great opportunity to make an
internationally crafted film in a stunning natural setting," Holdom said.

Dai's last film, "Ganglamedo" -- made in 2008 by
the state-run China Film Group -- is about a
Tibetan folk song that haunts and connects a
Tibetan bride to a Chinese singer who, 60 years
after the bride's disappearance, grows passionate about the same song.

This year, which marks the 60th anniversary of
the founding of the People's Republic of China,
Beijing is ratcheting up broadcast messages of
ethnic harmony in programs from the Spring
Festival gala in February to the annual legislative meeting a few weeks ago.

Zarshi Dhawa, who wrote "Ganglamedo," also penned "Once Upon a Time in Tibet."

"Once Upon a Time in Tibet" will be investor
Yang's first involvement in films. He said he and
Stellar Megamedia executive Yue Xiaomei discussed
an ongoing production relationship.
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