Free Tibet

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Free Tibet

Currently touring the country on a limited basis is Free Tibet, a documentary covering the events surrounding the first Free Tibet concert in San Francisco in 1996. Organized by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, the event featured performances by such artists as The Fugees, The Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, Beck, Bjork, and Buddy Guy. Free Tibet is both a concert film and an informative documentary intended to spur action, but there's something peculiar about a movie that interrupts footage of the Chinese oppression of Tibet with that of happy, persecution-free American music fans. The film has the good sense to pick up on this, dropping in numerous scenes illustrating the apathy and ignorance of many concert-goers. Free Tibet is presumably supposed to entertain those people while serving as a corrective; as such, it mostly works. As a concert film, it's not especially satisfying, but how many concert films are? Each artist is limited to one on-screen number, and many of these are interrupted for interviews with spokespeople for the Tibetan cause. As a documentary about the troubles in Tibet and the struggle elsewhere to end them—and that's mostly what it is—Free Tibet is fairly effective. It's kind of like a sugar-coated pill, but both the sugar and the pill are worth ingesting. All proceeds go to charity. Guess which one.