Description of Foreign Films at the 2004 Tibetan Film Festival

The Motorcycle Diaries

Directed by Walter Salles

The Motorcycle Diaries is an intriguing film, chronicling the young Ernesto "Che" Guevara's travels around South America in the early 1950s. It's a visually stunning road movie where the most important journey takes place within its hero's head – from disaffected medical student to rebel with a cause.

Guevara embarks on the 8,000km trip from Argentina to Venezuela with biochemist friend Alberto Granado, leaving his elegant upper-middle class surroundings in Buenos Aires on a rickety 1939 Norton 500. The subsequent journey opens the two men's eyes to social injustice, beautiful women and human kindness. As they begin to see a different Latin America in the people they meet on the road, the diverse geography they encounter begins to reflect their own shifting perspectives. From homeless miners to riverboat prostitutes, from lepers to prosperous gentry, Guevara and Granado discover an affinity for humanity within themselves, and a determination to change the world.

The Motorcycle Diaries provides a tender and memorable insight into one of the 20th century's most iconic figures. It follows a journey of self-discovery and traces the origins of a revolutionary heart.

Fahrenheit 9/11

Written and Directed by Michael Moore

One of the most controversial and provocative films of the year, Fahrenheit 9/11 is Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore's searing examination of the Bush administration's actions in the wake of the tragic events of 9/11.

With his characteristic humour and dogged commitment to uncovering the facts, Moore considers the presidency of George W. Bush and where it has led us. He looks at how – and why – Bush and his inner circle avoided pursuing the Saudi connection to 9/11, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis and Saudi money had funded Al Qaeda.

Fahrenheit 9/11 shows us a nation kept in constant fear by FBI alerts and lulled into accepting a piece of legislation, the USA Patriot Act, that infringes on basic civil rights. It is in this atmosphere of confusion, suspicion and dread that the Bush Administration makes its headlong rush towards war in Iraq and Fahrenheit 9/11 takes us inside that war to tell the stories we haven't heard, illustrating the awful human cost to U.S. soldiers and their families.

The Legend of Bhagat Singh

Directed by Raj Kumar Santoshi

On 23 March 1931, in the dead of the night, three bodies are smuggled out of Lahore Central Jail via the back gate. They are taken to an isolated place, chopped up into pieces and surreptitiously cremated by British Soldiers. The next day, this incident creates a national uproar throughout India. Who was this man who struck such fear in the hearts of the powerful British Government that they had to destroy his dead body in the darkness?

Who was this man whose memory invokes such powerful emotions even 71 years after his death? He was Bhagat Singh, India's most beloved son. An extraordinary young man who happily became a martyr for his country at the tender age of 23: a revolutionary who single-handedly shook up the powerful British Government, exposing their true barbaric nature. A man for whom victory lay in his own death. This is his story: The legend of Bhagat Singh.

His one final charge against the British rule with an outrageous bomb explosion in the national assembly and ends two years later with the entire nation rallying behind Bhagat Singh, echoing his call of "Long Live Revolution". His heroism is in his ability to bring the world's biggest power to its knees. His single-handed battle with the British rulers inspires courage in the Indian youth and gives a nation its self-respect back. Even if it means that he has to pay for this fight with his life.


Written and Directed by Erik Gandini

Surplus sets out to seek the answer to the question: why is the lifestyle of consumerism a source of such rage today? The ideological rationale for Surplus is compelling: rampant consumerism is out of control in a world characterised by unjust distribution. Passive shoppers are "terrorised" into spending for spending's sake, driven by advertising – the relentless propaganda of a consumerist society.

Filmed for over three years in eight countries, the film looks at a number of events, from the explosive riot days in Genoa 2001 to the sale of $7000 sex dolls in the US, and explores the destructive nature of consumer culture.

Set against a backdrop of cynical world leaders, corporate chiefs and Microsoft fanatics, the film focuses on the controversial anti-globalization guru John Zerzan, whose call for property damage has inspired many to take to the streets.

Chavez: Inside the Coup

Filmed & Directed by Kim Bartley & Donnacha O'Briain

This documentary depicts the overthrow and return to power of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela in a coup in 2002. Chavez, a colourful, unpredictable folk-hero, was beloved by his nation's working class and an opponent to the power structure that saw him deposed. On April 11, 2002, he was forcibly removed from office and replaced by a new interim government. What had taken place was the first Latin American coup of the 21st century, and the world's first media coup. Two independent filmmakers were lucky enough to be inside the presidential palace when the coup took place. They were also present 48 hours later when, remarkably, Chavez returned to power amid cheering aides.

Their film records what was probably history's shortest-lived coup d'état. The result is a brilliant piece of journalism and an astonishing portrait of the balance of forces in Venezuela.


Written and Directed by Siddiq Barmak

The film Osama, is not – as its title might suggest – a documentary about the world's most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden, but a politically astute drama following a family of women in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Siddiq Barmak's film, the first to be made in post-Taliban Afghanistan, is a captivating portrayal about a 12-year-old girl and her mother who lose their jobs when the Taliban closes the hospital where they work. Left destitute by years of war and repression and without a single male relative to protect them from the policies of the local religious leaders, they resort to desperate measures to feed themselves.

Unable to work because they are women, the mother disguises her daughter as a boy. Now called 'Osama', the girl embarks on a terrifying and confusing journey as she tries to hide her true identity, which becomes increasingly difficult as the Taliban round up all available male children for religious classes.

The film, based on a true story, is about the treatment of women under the Taliban regime and focuses on the individual and collective scars that the years of repression have had on Afghanistan.

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