Editorial: Free Spirit Film Festival 2008

This year's film festival was planned for the spring. But as the preparations were underway, Tibetans inside Tibet rose up in one of the biggest protests against the Chinese rule in Tibet. Monks from Drepung monastery demonstrated on 10 March, the Tibetan uprising day of 1959. Protests later swelled and spread in all the Tibetan-inhabited areas. For fear of the Beijing Olympics being shattered, China cracked down heavily on the protests, resulting in the death of around 200 Tibetans, although Tibetans say the actual number could be higher, and thousands have disappeared. We have dedicated the festival to the martyrs, and to those heroes who are still suffering in Chinese prisons.

Tibet now remains closed to outsiders, except for a few organised tours, completely locking down the flow of information.

The Films

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy has compiled a video from the limited materials they have procured showing the sacrifices of the Tibetans inside Tibet.

Exile Tibetans around the world carried out extensive activities highlighting the protests in Tibet and their aspirations for a Free Tibet. The work of five NGOs producing a "Return March to Tibet" is another inspiring documentary.

On a lighter note, we are happy to present two films made by the first Tibetan filmmaker in Tibet/China: Pema Tsetan. And one evening is dedicated to two exile filmmakers, Tashi Wangchuk and Tsultrim Dorjee.

The Dalai Lama's address in the video: The Middle Way: A Peaceful Approach to Resolving Conflict, is a must-see for every Tibetan. The Unwinking Gaze should be one of the favourite picks of the festival.

Our thanks go to all the directors and producers for taking part in the festival. A special thanks goes to Laura Seach for designing the poster and the brochure of the festival. Our big thanks goes to Tom Vendetti for contributing 700 USD towards the festival. And, without the continued support of staff members of the Free Spirit team, the festival would not have been enjoyable.

Lobsang Wangyal
Festival director

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