Free Spirit Film Festival 2012 to open from Wednesday

After a one-year hiatus due to the critical situation in Tibet, the Free Spirit Film Festival is back. The festival this year is dedicated to the Tibetans who have self-immolated for freedom in Tibet. Since February 2009, fifty-six Tibetans have self-immolated as of this date.

The three-day Free Spirit Film Festival, starting Wednesday 24 October, will screen seven films selected from all parts of the world. The Day School in McLeod Ganj will be the venue of the festival.

The festival will open with a documentary about the self-immolations in Tibet. The 30-minute film The Burning Question, directed and distributed by the Department of Information and International Relations of the Central Tibetan Administration, shows the grim situation in Tibet which leads Tibetans to take such a drastic action as self-immolation to express their desperation.

As Bob Marley is a global phenomena, director of the documentary Marley, Kevin MacDonald, quietly came to McLeod Ganj and filmed the love and craze of people in McLeod Ganj for music legend Bob Marley. Not only the life and music of Marley, but the inclusion of McLeod Ganj in this documentary, should enthrall all. However, we will be unable to show this film, and we extend our apologies. We had attempted months ago to contact the distributors for permission to screen it for the people of McLeod Ganj, but they never responded. The holders of the "exploitation rights" of Marley have now at the last minute determined that the story of Bob Marley's "movement of Jah people" among the people of McLeod Ganj, should not be shared with the people.

Journey of a Dream by Shenpenn Khymsar represents a new generation of Tibetans, talking and reaching out to the world. Khymsar reaches the world through an unconventional form of expression — Heavy Metal.

Tom Vendetti lives on Maui, but the Himalaya has always called and captivated him. When the Mountain Calls: Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan explores Vendetti's personal experiences and reflections from over 30 years of travelling through the Himalayas.

I thank all the other directors also for participating in this modest film festival, which was started in 2004.

Free Spirit Film Festival was first started by Lobsang Wangyal Productions in 2004. The idea of the film festival is to honour and promote the Tibetan film and filmmakers and to encourage and inspire up and coming Tibetan filmmakers.

This film festival is independent of any restrictions and has no affiliation to any government or organisation. The fest is aimed at sharing beautiful stories, concerns, interests, and creativity.

Tibet remains an occupied country by China and suffers under the repressive policies China adopts. The art of film has an important role to play in bringing awareness about Tibet's situation to the world.

It is hoped that the festival will encourage and strengthen a film culture among Tibetans. Films are an indispensable medium in today's world, and a stronger film culture will provide enormous benefit to Tibetans. The works of the few Tibetan filmmakers need to be seen, promoted and honoured.

Lobsang Wangyal
Festival Director

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