Coming to VOD tomorrow, Friday, June 19: STATE OF CONTROL
Christian Johnston and Darren Mann’s attempt to document Tibetan repression debuted at Stanford’s United Nations Association fest in 2013. Other fest screenings included Woodstock and DocuWest. FilmBuff now makes it available across VOD platforms including iTunes.
Early into their documentary, American filmmakers Johnston and Mann explain that they didn’t intend to film themselves, but claim that they had no choice. Initially setting out to give voice to Tibetans struggling under Chinese rule, they instead begin to chronicle their own troubles attempting to make a film under China’s ever watchful eye. In the face of intimidation tactics, from constant surveillance by uniformed and undercover agents alike to vandalism of their equipment, the disappearance of their translator and guide to the hacking of their production team’s email accounts, the duo are warned in no uncertain terms that their probing into the Tibetan situation is officially unwelcome. While their doggedness is admirable, they do lose sight of their goal in their too-familiar turn to metafilmmaking, and end up more or less burying the more interesting stories of Tibetan activists like Dhondup Wangchen, imprisoned for making a film featuring candid interviews with Tibetans.