I have shown a couple of films about the Tibetan issue in the past, and they are mainly well-crafted and dedicated documentaries about the problems the Tibetans are still facing in their own country, like: Tibet’s Cry for Freedom and The Sun Behind The Clouds.
Leaving Fear behind is another film on the same theme, but this time with a difference in that the filmmakers, Lama Jigme Gyatso and Dhondup Wangchen, decided to talk to ordinary Tibetans and get their view of the situation they face.
The outcome is extraordinary. Dhondup himself claims to be illiterate and many of the people he interviews are too. But that doesn’t mean they are in any way inarticulate, indeed they express themselves very well.
The film was made in the run up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and Dhondup interviewed around 100+ people in all for the film, although only a dozen or so are shown. He warned them that speaking on camera might be dangerous, and offered to blur their faces. Most refused, and preferred to state their views openly.
This is the sort of moving film that stays with you long after it has finished, and seeing the heart-filled devotion of ordinary people to the Dalai Lama and all that he stands for is very inspiring.
Dhondup Wangchen and Lama Jigme Gyatso were imprisoned by the Chinese authorities in 2006 shortly after making the film, and Dhondup is still in prison at the time of writing (July 2013), he has apparently suffered grave illness and been denied medical treatment.