How to sustain a situation of oppression?
Tibet is never out of our mind. It keeps on reminding the world that their culture of peace exist. Before the Olympic games in China in 2008 the occupation of Tibet was a hot issue. The Olypic flame was going through the cities of the world and - like in the streets of San Francisco - there was this wave of protest. The revolt of the monks in Tibet was at the same time killed brutally.
Clémentine Ederveen introduces the movie in artsociety Nieuwe Teisterbant in Haarlem, after we saw a vivid Wijnand Stomp in Mr. Anansi goes USA. She says her Lotus-movie is something completely different. To bring us in the mood she tells us about the idea. She was in Dharamsala India, where a community of Tibetians lives in exile after the occupation by China, 50 years ago. After a silent march to the temple of the Dalai Lamai, the group saw a movie of a shooting by the Chinese police, in which a 17-year old woman died. Clementine was struck by the idea that their desire is our desire and their hope is our hope. How long will they be able to bear this situation of oppression? She made contact with Tsering Jampa, the central person in this movie and started spontaniously to follow her with her camera. This is her contribution to their struggle of freedom.
In the beginning of this movie we see Tsering sitting along the side of a quiet Dutch lake, writing a letter about the situation in Tibet, but soon we go back to the early 1960’s in Tibet. She was a cute little four year old girl, playing with a ladybird, when suddenly she stands eye in eye with a brutal Chinese soldier. Soon her family leaves for India and we see them going through the Himalaya mountains. Her mother tells her about Chenrezig, the first incarnation of the Dalai Lama and she hears her father praying the Lojong, a mind training in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The young girl and her sister start to practise the aforisms.
The black and white fragments of the youth of Tsering are alternated by pictures of her actual work as director of the International Campaign for Tibet in Europe. The most moving part is the demonstration before the Chinese ambassy in The Hague, in which frustation and powerless is very clear.
During the Q & A a man says the movie was too sweet for him. He rather wanted to hear the young man in the demonstration. Why didn’t Clementine ask him about his opinion? Clementine answers that was not what she wanted to show. She agrees about different opinions between the generations, but she wanted to show the powerlessness and she succeeded very well, I think.
The Dalai Lama is also helpless, he says in a interview in the movie. He doesn’t know either what the future will bring. Clémentine feels that a change is coming. Kristofer Schipper said the same thing in a former article on this blog. He thinks that the Chinese will allow more freedom, but still the situation is very bad, especially in Tibet itself.
Another person says that there can be another reason for not asking the young man about his opinion. The Chinese oppress every dissident voice in Tibet and families who live there are being punished for the opinions of Tibetans in Holland.
Although the idea of this movie was sympathetic and the studying of the Lojong by Tsering and her sister lovely, the pictures of her youth were also a little too sweet for me. I was more moved by the documentary The Dalai Lama: 50 years after the fall, which was broadcasted in March 2009. In this documentary by the same makers of Dreaming Lhasa (2005) the political situation was explained very well.
On the other hand I think Clémentine succeeded very well in an other way: in spreading this culture of peace in our minds. That may in the long run be more effective then the brutal actions of the people from the Kaukasus against Russia.