Banned 1950’s documentary on Tibet returns to cinema ahead of 60th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising day

The Road Leads to Tibet. Image: Dech hor/NFA

DHARAMSALA, Feb 21: As Tibetans gear up to mark the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising day, a Czech documentary titled ‘The Road Leads to Tibet’ has returned to cinemas more than 60 years after its premiere.

The renewed premier of ‘The Road Leads to Tibet’ (Cesta vede do Tibetu) took place at the Lucerna cinema in Prague earlier on February 19, reports Radio Prague.

As the documentary hits the cinemas in Prague ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising day it remains to be seen how China reacts over the matter.

The Communist regime considers March a ‘political sensitive’ month in occupied Tibet and has recently banned overseas travelers from visiting Tibet over a period of several weeks ahead of two sensitive political anniversaries in Tibet. 

March 10th, 2019 marks the 60th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising day, and March 14th marks the 11th anniversary of the brutal crackdown on protests that spread across the Tibetan plateau in 2008in Tibet.

Commissioned by the Czechoslovak Army film studios, the documentary was shot by director Vladimír Sís and cameraman Josef Vaniš in 1953 for over a period of nine months.

The Road Leads to Tibet premiered in 1955 and won awards at Venice and Karlovy Vary film festivals, only to be banned by communist authorities years later after its Czech premiere in 1956.

The Documentary is said to include rare footages of Tibet from that period as Chinese armies made headways into Tibet to occupy the roof of the world.

During the said period, Tibet still maintained a partial autonomy and most of its monasteries, which were to be destroyed by the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the following decades, were still in existence, the report said.

“Czech filmmakers, therefore, succeeded in capturing a world that was soon to disappear,” the film’s distributor Viktor Kuna has said in the report.

The documentary, the report said had been lying forgotten in the National Film Archive for decades, before being re-discovered by the films’ distributor.

The new digital copy, which was screened in Prague’s Lucerna on Tuesday, is, in fact, one of the film’s three official versions, Viktor Kuna has said and added that audience will see the only surviving copy, which was made for Czechoslovak cinemas. “We cannot trace the Chinese version, the National Film Archive believes it has been destroyed, and so was the version made for festivals.”

Further, the son of Vladimír Sís, who directed the film has later written a memoir on his father’s  adventure in Tibet and China in the early 1950s titled ‘Tibet Through the Red Box.’

Click here to watch the teaser of the Documentary Film.

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