Filmed between 2004 and 2007, film-maker Joshua Dugdale was privy to the Dalai Lama’s public appearances, private audiences and important meetings. It shows his painstaking and frustrating efforts to lead his people to a peaceful resolution with China, and to engage its government in negotiations towards what he calls ‘meaningful autonomy’.
A key moment comes when it transpires Chinese representatives have been mistranslating the Dalai Lama’s speeches, confusing ‘freedom’ for ‘independence’. The Dalai Lama – on behalf of the Tibetan people – gave up the claim for independence back in the 1980s.
A timely, important film, The Unwinking Gaze reveals the world of the man dubbed a ‘splittist’ and canny political operator by the Chinese, with the hope Beijing might make more informed decisions in their dealings with him. Wisely, Dugdale decides against a voiceover, so the Dalai Lama’s voice is heard. Against the backdrop of this agonising struggle for Tibet, his sincerity, inner strength and sense of humour shine through. Laura Sevier
The Unwinking Gaze: the Inside Story of the Dalai Lama’s Struggle for Tibet, directed by Joshua Dugdale
To buy the DVD, see www.unwinkinggaze.com
This article first appeared in the Ecologist May 2008