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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?"

China withdraws films in protest over Dalai Lama doc

January 9, 2010 January 7, 2010

Two Chinese films have been pulled from the 21st Annual Palm Springs
International Film Festival in protest over a documentary about the life of
the Dalai Lama.

Representatives from the Chinese government met with festival director
Darryl Macdonald to request the cancellation of the film The Sun Behind the
Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom, according to a statement on the
festival website.

When Macdonald refused to pull the film, China withdrew the films City of
Life and Death and Quick, Quick, Slow.

Macdonald said he was saddened by the Chinese decision but that agreeing to
the government's demands would have set a bad precedent.

"We cannot allow the concerns of one country or community to dictate what
films we should or should not play, based on their own cultural or political
perspective," he said.

The films have been replaced by:

* Sticky Fingers, a crime caper movie filmed partly in Montreal.
* For a Moment Freedom, a film about Middle Eastern refugees who have made
their way to Turkey to apply for European visas.

City of Life and Death is a feature about Japan's brutal occupation of the
city of Nanjing by up and coming director Lu Chuan. It was controversial
within China because it provided a sympathetic portrait of one of the
Japanese invaders.

Lu was reluctant to be interviewed about the Palm Springs cancellation and
hinted he was unable to speak freely about it because of political pressure.

Quick, Quick, Slow is a comedy about some Chinese retirees who start a dance

The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom is to have its North
American premiere in Palm Springs when it screens on Sunday.

The documentary from Tibetan filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam follows
the Dalai Lama's life in 2008, the year of protests in Tibet, the long march
in India and the Beijing Olympics.

The festival specializes in independent features and documentaries making
their North American or U.S. debuts and also presents a majority of the
films submitted for consideration for the Academy Award for best foreign
language film.

China has begun a campaign of pressure on festivals that show films critical
of China, withdrawing works last year from a festival in Melbourne over a
film about a Uighur dissident. Chinese hackers later crashed the film
festival's website. It also withdrew Chinese films from contention for the
Golden Horse Awards, held in Taiwan.
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