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WINDHORSE

SYNOPSIS:
Three children witness a brutal crime in Tibet at the hands of Chinese soldiers. The three are now grown. Dolkar (Dadon) sings in a bar and is dating a Chinese official, Duan-ping (Richard Chang). Her brother Dorjee (Jampa Kelsang), spends most of his time drinking, his resentment of the Chinese barely disguised. Pema (played by a Tibetan actress whose name has been withheld) is a nun, who becomes involved in antigovernment activity. Duan-ping, tries to impress officials at the State run broadcaster by recruiting the popular Dolkar to sing on TV. One day in the market, Pema is arrested and badly beaten. Dolkar start to realise the seriousness of the situation and tries to involve the angry but apathetic Dorjee.

"Windhorse is directed by an American, Paul Wagner; but was partly shot in Tibet by a largely Tibetan crew (posing as tourists and their guides) whose very lives were in danger if they were found out. Some of those still in Tibet refused to allow their names to be mentioned in the credits out of fear. That in itself must say volumes about the current situation in Tibet. That the film was even made is a remarkable achievement. However, purely as a film, Windhorse is a less than successful exercise. Whilst I appreciate the filmmakers are dealing with a brutal and repressive regime, it adopts a sledgehammer approach to the story. The Chinese in the film are depicted as either oafs or fools, while the Tibetans wear the white hats. Sometimes, subtlety is dangerous, particularly in an overtly political film. But here, any semblance of it is lost in the service of the message. Compare this to say Scorsese’s Kundun, which while not without its flaws, managed to send a similar message with a degree of sophistication. Also, the plot verges on obvious melodrama for much of the time, leading to a rather "clunky" feel. Nonetheless, it was one of the most popular films at this year’s Brisbane International Film Festival, so its message obviously got through. The largely amateur cast make up for their lack of experience with a high level of enthusiasm and a belief in the project - which is great to see. For all its faults, Windhorse is a brave political film that anyone interested in the Tibetan situation should seek out."
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
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Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

WINDHORSE (MA)
(Tibet)

CAST: Dadon, Jampa Kelsang, Richard Chang

DIRECTOR: Paul Wagner

PRODUCER: Ellen Casey Wagner, Paul Wagner

SCRIPT: Julia Elliot, Thupten Tsering

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Steve Schecter

EDITOR: Tony Black, Paul Wagner

MUSIC: Sam Chapin, John Dana, Tommy Hayes

PRODUCTION DESIGN:

RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Gil Scrine Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE:
Sydney - Sept 3, 99
Canberra - Sept 30
Adelaide - Oct 7
Melbourne - Oct 28
Brisbane Nov 5
Perth - Nov 25
Armidale - Dec 2
Hobart - Jan 2000







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