In a move that has become more common for Chinese films traveling the worldwide festival circuit, two films from the world’s most populous country that had been selected to screen at the 21st Palm Springs International Film Festival have been withdrawn in response to the planned screening of documentary, “The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom,” which focuses on the Dalai Lama and the occupied country.
“Sun Behind the Clouds” follows the Dalai Lama’s trials and tribulations and over an eventful year, including the 2008 protests in Tibet, the long march in India, the Beijing Olympics, and the breakdown of talks with China.
“After meeting with representatives from the Chinese government regarding their request to cancel our screenings of ‘The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom,’ we have respectfully declined their request,” PSIFF Director Darryl Macdonald said in a statement. “I’m saddened that the Chinese film authorities have chosen to withdraw their films from PSIFF, as the festival is an international cultural event whose mandate is to present a wide cross section of perspectives and points of view. That said, we cannot allow the concerns of one country or community to dictate what films we should or should not play, based on their own cultural or political perspective. Freedom of expression is a concept that is integral both to the validity of artistic events, and indeed, to the ethos of this country.”
In 2009, the Chinese withdrew their slate from the Melbourne International Film Festival, Australia’s largest in protest of a screening of Uighur documentary, “The 10 Conditions of Love.” It was also alleged that the country hacked the MIFF’s website.
Celebrating its 21st anniversary, PSIFF was founded in 1990 by then-Mayor Sonny Bono. This year’s edition includes over 180 films from approximately 70 countries.