Middle Way or Independence?, 2008

Still: Courtesy the artists

Single-channel video installation (color, sound), and three video compilations of ten interviews (color, sound)
11 min 49 sec (videos)
Overall dimensions variable
Commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary

The multichannel video installation by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam Middle Way or Independence? (2008) unfolds around a comprehensive and multifaceted discussion on the Tibetan question, setting the "Middle Way" approach of partial autonomy within China against the demands for total independence by the activist community.
The film fragments interweave scenes from recent Free Tibet activities (The Return March to Tibet) with interviews with members of the Tibetan community in exile in India, and Chinese intellectuals engaged with the Tibetan question who confront their own spiritual and political engagements.

"Since the late 1980s, against the wishes and advice of many of his own people, the Dalai Lama had formally given up the goal of Tibet's independence and instead proposed what he called the "Middle Way" approach, which accepted Chinese rule so long as Tibetans were given genuine autonomy. He based this on the Buddhist principle of avoiding extreme positions and on the ideals of compassion and altruism. But his conciliatory overtures have led nowhere. China continues to insist that there is no problem in Tibet and therefore no need to deal with the Dalai Lama.Inside Tibet, the Chinese have stepped up their anti-Dalai Lama campaign by reinstating the Mao-era practice of "political education", a key component of which is the denunciation of the exiled leader. It is a crime to display or possess a photograph of the Dalai Lama. Publicly they have relentlessly vilified him, calling him a "false religious leader", a "double dealer", and most recently, "a wolf in monk's clothing, a devil with a human face". The Communist Party secretary of Tibet described the battle against the Dalai Lama as a "fight to the death". Meanwhile, a massive influx of Chinese migrants, boosted by the opening of the Tibet railway in 2006, has already made Tibetans minorities in their own cities." – Tenzing Sonam

Ritu Sarin: *in New Delhi, India | Living and working in Dharamshala and New Delhi, India
Tenzing Sonam: *1959 in Darjeeling, Tibet | Living and working in Dharamshala and New Delhi, India
Ritu Sarin an Indian film director, producer and artist graduated from Miranda House, Delhi University, she did her MFA in film and video from the California College of Arts. Sarin is the recipient of Miranda House’s 2010 Distinguished Alumna Award. Sarin and her husband, Tenzing Sonam, and have been making films since their student days in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 80s. 

This biography is from Wikipedia under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License
Tenzing Sonam graduated from St Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and then studied broadcast journalism at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. After graduating from Berkeley, he worked for four years as Programming Director at the Meridian Trust in London, along with his partner Ritu Sarin. In 1991, he and Sarin founded White Crane Films. He has been an independent filmmaker ever since.

This biography is from Wikipedia under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License
Artist's website:
Working through White Crane Films, they have made more than 20 documentaries, several video installations and two dramatic features. A recurring subject in their work is the issue of Tibet, with which they have been intimately involved: personally, politically and artistically. Through their films, they have attempted to document, question and reflect on the questions of exile, identity, culture and nationalism that confront the Tibetan people. Another concern is the transformation and transmutation of societies through globalisation.
Clip from "Middle Way or Independence"