1997 - Year of Tibet in the Movies

The following article is from the Winter, 1997 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

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This year we can hope to see the release of two major films on Tibet: Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet.

Melissa Mathison Ford, the wife of Harrison Ford, wrote the screenplay for Kundun based on the Dalai Lama's autobiography. She has also written the screenplay for ET and The Black Stallion. Martin Scorsese is the director and Disney's Touchstone Pictures will distribute the film.

Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Bear, Name of the Rose) is directing Seven Years in Tibet, the story of Heinrich Harrer's great adventure in Tibet. Oscar nominee Brad Pitt plays Harrer and David Thewlis plays Peter Aufschnaiter, The movie is being filmed in Argentina, Chile and Canada and will be distributed by Columbia fri Star.

Both films are scheduled to be released in the fall of 1997.

The Chinese government seems to be particularly worried about Kundun and has threatened to bar Walt Disney Productions from aicess to any of its markets if Disney releases the film. So far, the Chinese haven't spoken out against Seven Years in Tibet.

Filming for Kundun was done in Morocco since the Chinese interfered with the possibility of shooting it in the Himalayan region.

The word Kundun means the presence of a great incarnation, and the movie chronicles the life of the 14th Dalai Lama from his selection as the reincarnated lama to his perilous escape to India in the 1950s. The cast of Kundun is all Tibetan and performers were chosen from exiles.

Tsering Lhamo, a Tibetan from Ithaca, New York plays the Dalai Lama's sister. She said, It is a movie especially made for Tibetans, so the world will know what happened when the Chinese invaded our country. A crew of Italian designers recreated the Potala and when the Tibetans saw it, they all started to cry. ä_æ

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