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  7. The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet

The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet

Tenzing Sonam & Ritu Sarin, UK, India 1998/2018, 50 Min., OV with English subs, DCP
Followed by a talk with Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam

The Tibetan people are known for being devoutly religious and peace loving. What is less known is that from 1957-1969, thousands of Tibetans took up arms against the invading forces of Communist China to wage a bitter and bloody guerrilla war. Those fighters were armed, financed and trained by the CIA, who would abruptly withdraw their support in the late 1960s. The Tibetans had simply fitted into America's larger policy of destabilising Communist regimes, and when that no longer applied, they were abandoned. With unique archive footage and exclusive interviews with former resistance fighters and surviving CIA operatives, The Shadow Circusreveals for the first time this unknown chapter in Tibet's recent history – a tale that is both heroic and tragic, full of sad ironies and unexpected twists that overturn all preconceptions about both Tibet and the CIA. 

Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam have made several award-winning films and video installations. Their work focuses primarily on Tibet and attempts to document and reflect on the questions of exile, identity, culture and nationalism that confront the Tibetan people. They are based in Dharamshala (India) where they also run the Dharamshala International Film Festival, one of India's leading independent film festivals, which they founded in 2012.