Leaving Fear Behind: A Documentary by and about Tibetans
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Leaving Fear Behind: A Documentary by and about Tibetans

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John Ahni Schertow
August 30, 2008
 

Leaving Fear Behind (in Tibetan, Jigdrel) is a documentary film shot by Tibetans from inside Tibet, who longed to bring Tibetan voices to the Beijing Olympic Games.

Completed on the eve of the Tibetan Uprising last March, the 24 minute film provides a much need space for the Tibetan People to share their views on the XXIX Olympics, and what grievances they have against China.

To make “Leaving Fear Behind“, Dhondup Wangchen and Golog Jigme, the film’s Tibetan filmmakers, interviewed over 100 Tibetans, collecting more than 40 hours of testimonies throughout Tibet.

The footage, which was smuggled out of their occupied homeland, “reveals with stark clarity that Tibetans are frustrated and embittered by the deterioration and marginalization of Tibetan language and culture; the destruction of the lifestyle of Tibetan nomads through Chinese forced settlement policies; the lack of religious freedom and the vilification of the Dalai Lama; and the broken promises made by the Chinese government to improve conditions in Tibet in the run up to the Olympic games,” explains the film’s official website. “All are united in their reverence for the Dalai Lama and long for him to return, and as some even dream, to attend the Olympic Games.”

“Shortly after concluding the documentary, Dhondup and Golog were arrested. They have now been missing since late March,” reports the video advocacy group, WITNESS. “In July, the family received word that the filmmakers had been ‘severely tortured’ for ‘at least five days’. Since then, their whereabouts have remained unknown. The film was edited and completed by Gyaljong Tsertin, who now lives in Switzerland and is working to draw attention to the case.”

“On the closing Sunday of the Games, Dhondup’s wife, Lhamo-Tso, wrote a letter to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge to express her ‘desperation and sorrow’ and urge the IOC to pressure China to remain ‘true to its promise of freedom of expression’. ‘Their crime was to film Tibetans’ peaceful expression of their views on the XXIX Olympic Games,’ she says.”

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