DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

 
SUN BEHIND THE CLOUDS, THE: TIBET'S STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM (directors: Ritu Sarin/Tenzing Sonam; screenwriter: Tenzing Sonam; cinematographer: Graham Day; editor: Anupama Chandra; music: Gustavo Santaolalla; cast: Dalai Lama, Tenzing Sonam (narrator); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ritu Sarin; Zeitgeist Video; 2010-India/UK-in English/Tibetan/Mandarin with English subtitles)

"A clear-headed and even-handed look at how the Dalai Lama, as both spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people, has handled his exile to India since 1959."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

A clear-headed and even-handed look at how the Dalai Lama, as both spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people, has handled his exile to India since 1959 and the dilemma still facing his country's struggle for human dignity as an occupied country. Ever since the 1980s the Dalai Lama has chosen the controversial Middle Way Approach, eschewing independence in favor of Tibetan autonomy. This would allow Tibet to be subject to Chinese rule, but will allow Tibetans to speak their own language and keep their culture. This is opposed by a new breed of activist who want the Dalai Lama to lead a non-violent movement for independence like Gandhi's. The Dalai Lama feels helpless that he can't deal with the evil Chinese empire and their systemic institutionalized scheme to completely subjugate the remaining Tibetans who did not flee their country with him after their uprising in 1959--which came after the Chinese invasion of their country nine years before. So far at least a million Tibetans have lost their lives in the ensuing struggle, which leaves a Tibetan population of six million.

The earnest documentary focuses on the events in 2008 that include the four-month march of activist exiled Tibetans to the Indo-Tibetan border before stopped by their host country's army, the brave Buddhist monks' protests about repression in Lhasa, the world-wide demonstrations during the Beijing Olympics about Chinese lies over their forced occupying rule, and the talks started by the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama's envoys that the Chinese conveniently discontinued soon after the Olympics.

The film chronicles the growing rift by the frustrated and impatient younger generation of Tibetans over their spiritual leader's failed peace efforts. They still respect and remain devoted to the Dalai Lama, but demand a more confrontational tact since the Middle Path has not worked with such a powerful but insecure country like Red China.

Directors Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam film a no-nonsense accurate and emotionally moving assessment of the current crisis between the David and Goliath combatants. It's the kind of valuable educational film that can bring one up to snuff in a jiffy on events if not completely aware of the complexities of the over fifty year conflict.

The film features informative candid talks with the Dalai Lama and several Tibetan activists, as it challenges Red China to stop its cultural genocide policies and for the Dalai Lama to try a different approach since his compromising gentle Middle Path approach seems doomed to failure.

REVIEWED ON 10/28/2011       GRADE: A-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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