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The Unwinking Gaze

Laura Sevier

1st July, 2008

Although the Dalai Lama says he is 80 per cent monk and 20 per cent politician, the focus of this documentary is largely political.

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

This article first appeared in the Ecologist May 2008


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