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/
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.
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.
That brings me to “We Were Made for Home”, a poetry evening on Wednesday at Burley Fisher Books in East London. I’m really looking forward to talking about my work with High Peaks Pure Earth and also being in the company of young Tibetan writers and scholars. It’s not often we get Tibetan poetry nights in London so a huge thank you to Tibet Relief Fund for hosting and putting everything together!
It’s been heartwarming to see all the positive responses from all around the world to the news that Dhondup Wangchen arrived safely in the US on Christmas Day. Dhondup Wangchen’s escape from Tibet has been a rare piece of good news!
Similarly, many took to Twitter including Nancy Pelosi and the Committee to Protect Journalists:
It is my honor to welcome Tibetan Filmmaker & former Chinese political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen to our San Francisco community. My thoughts are with him as he is once again united with his wife & children in freedom after so many years.
It was my absolute pleasure to interview John Billington for LondonNey about his lifelong engagement for Tibet. John, or “Uncle John” as he’s known in my family, was kind enough to come all the way from his home in Wales to spend the best part of an afternoon with us in London on a Saturday last month.
John Billington and I
Filming the interview
Cameraman and interviewer!
Some time after the interview to chat and relax, the crew worked very hard behind the scenes, thanks guys!
The full interview on YouTube is embedded at the top of this post and above are some other photos from the day.
A huge thank you of course to Uncle John but also to the entire LondonNey crew who worked extremely hard to make sure the filming on the day went smoothly. We had a productive day but it was also a lot of fun, with plenty to talk about and also to eat and drink!