I’m really excited that Pema Tseden’s film Balloon is (finally) receiving a UK wide release starting from TODAY! I’d heard so much about it and managed to somehow miss the one London screening that took place at the London East Asian Film Festival in November 2019 – almost two years ago!!
So I was thrilled to be asked to write the programme notes for the marketing pack that accompanies the film’s release via the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) initiative. Not only was I able to watch the film courtesy of the distributor Day for Night, I was able to, for the first time, really think about the themes and formulate some thoughts about a Pema Tseden film.
In anticipation of the release of Tashi Wangchuk from 5 years in prison for advocating for Tibetan language rights, I took part in this online panel discussion on 18 January 2021. For some reason you can’t see it on the video but Rinzin Choedon la and I had written our names in Tibetan on the screen – it’s showing as squares!
Thank you to International Tibet Network for inviting me to speak as well as to the fellow panelists.
Fortunately Tashi Wangchuk was released on 28 January but now faces 5 years of deprivation of political rights, the harshest length possible. Here is the link to the video of the panel: https://fb.watch/3sQd1sytrk/
Update 24 February 2021: I took part in an online discussion hosted by Tibet Action Institute last Friday on the topic of how we can protect Tibetan language rights, it was also International Mother Language Day this past Sunday so it was a good occasion for this event. Here is the link to the video: https://fb.watch/3QDc0DTsT1/
This year I’ve greatly enjoyed being part of a small group of committed Tibetans involved in the project smartvote Tibet.
Even though the Tibetan election details have only been announced relatively recently, our group has been busy getting ready for many months.
smartvote Tibet is a user-friendly online platform designed to help Tibetan voters to make an informed decision on election day. We’ve been collecting questions from the general public and will next enter the phase of launching the online platform – Chithue and Sikyong candidates will be asked to create their profiles so that they can answer 30 questions. The idea is that we will all then be able to create our own profiles and answer the same questions to get a match. I’m excited to see how this will go!
Another aspect of the project has been to gain feedback from the amazing Advisory Board members about the questions so that we have a representative selection in the final 30. I’ve participated in several calls and there’s always so much to discuss and think about.
On 1 September, my colleague Wangpo Tethong la and I were interviewed by Palden Gyal la of Radio Free Asia to talk about the smartvote Tibet project. I’m linking to the interview below. In the meantime please keep an eye on https://www.smartvote-tibet.org/english/ for exciting updates!
For so many of us around the world, now is the time stay in but it doesn’t have to be boring or unproductive. We can all experience amazing culture and support Tibetan artists in the process!
I was recently refunded a bunch of theatre and events tickets and now that we’re facing weeks/months of isolation, it’s a good time to remind ourselves how much great art is being produced by Tibetans. I’m more than happy to re-direct the money to supporting Tibetan artists at this difficult time for them.
A lot of people forget that Tibetan artists are, more often than not, doing everything by themselves. How many Tibetan filmmakers, musicians, artists have agents, managers, assistants, producers or any kind of professional body of support? Very very few. How many Tibetan artists generously put their work online for free? Too many. This post is about how we can place value on our artistic community by GIVING THEM OUR MONEY.
So let’s start by watching the incredible Royal Café on demand and I’ll keep adding to this post as I come across other ways of giving Tibetan artists our money.
Following on from the playwriting workshops held at the Royal Court Theatre last Autumn, our writers group have decided to carry on with writing workshops this spring. We’re excited to keep going with what we’ve started and are looking to expand the group. If you are a UK based Tibetan please join us, no previous writing experience necessary! All details in the announcement below, deadline for applications is 3rd February, 2020.
After ten successful years in Zurich and Dharamsala, the Tibet Film Festival finally came to London in November 2019! It was my honour to co-organise the Tibet Film Festival in London along with Kunsang Kelden and an incredible team of volunteers.
Having attended the Dharamsala Film Festival in the past, we felt it was time for London to have two days completely dedicated to Tibetan filmmakers and Tibetan films. We were fortunate to have amazing venues for the two days, Deptford Cinema in Deptford, Deptford Does Art for the after party and artFix in Woolwich.
So thrilled to see this publication “Blossoming Broken Flowers: Selected Writings from High Peaks Pure Earth” in print, produced in partnership with the UK charity Tibet Relief Fund!
It’s been a pleasure to work together with the Tibet Relief Fund, can’t believe it’s been almost a year since they hosted the poetry event “We Were Made for Home” here in London. Even back then we’d been discussing putting a book together of writings from High Peaks Pure Earth and now we’ve done it!
The best part of doing this book is that Tibet Relief Fund will distribute free copies to Tibetan students in India and Nepal, making online writings more accessible and in particular, writings from Tibet. I’d like to offer my personal thanks to staff at Tibet Relief Fund both in UK and India for working hard on realising this project!
Celebrating the publication with Tibetan friends in London
Receiving the book from ENVISION’s Director Youdon Aukatsang. ENVISION is a project of Tibet Relief Fund’s.
For a limited time, “Blossoming Broken Flowers: Selected Writings from High Peaks Pure Earth” is available for the special price of £4.99 (usual price £6.99) and can be ordered via the Tibet Relief Fund’s online shop: http://bit.ly/HPPEbook
Tibetan Review has kindly published a joint review that I wrote along with four other UK based Tibetans, Sonam Anjatsang, Georgina Choekyi Doji, Kunsang Kelden and Tenzing Zega.
The back story to the play “Pah-La”, currently running at London’s Royal Court Theatre until 27 April, is quite long and convoluted so I won’t go into everything here. What started as concerns about the lack of Tibetans in the cast gave way to addressing larger issues about the actual content of the play. I didn’t write about the casting debacle as I didn’t feel like I had anything to add to my previous article about the 2016 play “Shangri-La”.
With this review of “Pah-La” I feel so honoured and privileged to have had four fiercely smart and passionate co-authors who were very generous with their time and with sharing their thoughts. We all want plays and stories about Tibet to succeed but with “Pah-La” something didn’t feel right so this review is the result of our many discussions.
Our stories are being told by others but talking back is the one power we can exercise.
I was happy to take part in an online press conference yesterday on Human Rights Day talking about the situation on the ground for Tibetans inside Tibet and the PRC in terms of using the internet and social media.