Join our Mailing List

"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Movie Review The Sun Behind the Clouds

April 4, 2010

NYT March 31, 2010
Dalai Lama Juggles Dilemmas

"The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom," a documentary by
Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, is so awkwardly executed that at first it may
come across as just another chorus of a familiar song: that Tibetans think
they have been done terrible injustices by China. But pay close enough
attention, and eventually another, entirely different theme emerges: the
Dalai Lama may be losing his ability to keep the more radical elements of
the free-Tibet movement in check.

The film looks at the protests against China that sprang up in 2008 in Tibet
and among Tibetans living abroad, which coincided with the Chinese
government's efforts to improve its image as it prepared to host the summer
Olympics. The Dalai Lama long ago backed away from calling for independence
for Tibet, which has been under Chinese control for half a century, instead
endorsing a so-called middle way that emphasizes preservation of culture.
But many of the protesters wanted a return to a more militant stand.

The filmmakers, chronicling the Dalai Lama's somewhat muddled attempts to
respond to the protesters' calls while not antagonizing China, do a fair
amount of muddling themselves. They lurch awkwardly between reverence for
the Dalai Lama and hints that he has become, politically, irrelevant or an

Western viewers, accustomed to a less timid style of documentary, may come
away from this one feeling that it only scratches the surface of a complex
issue. The presence of this film at the Palm Springs International Film
Festival in January caused China to withdraw two movies from that event, but
the documentary is as much a challenge to the Dalai Lama as it is to the

The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom Opens on Wednesday
in Manhattan. Directed by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam; written and narrated
by Mr. Sonam; directors of photography, Graham Day, Jaimie Gramston, Mr.
Sonam, Stephen McCarthy, John Sergeant, Dilip Varma and Tensin Tsetan
Choklay; edited by Anupama Chandra, Mahadeb Shi and Mr. Sonam; music by
Gustavo Santolalla; produced by Ms. Sarin; released by Balcony Releasing. At
Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South
Village. In English, Tibetan and Mandarin, with English subtitles. Running
time: 1 hour 19 minutes. This film is not rated.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank