When The Dragon Swallowed The Sun

Forty years after the beginning of the Chinese invasion, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama compromised in the late 80s on the idea of a free Tibet and offered China the option of a genuine autonomy instead. This adjustment in approach was the beginning of a conflict that is tearing apart Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. The Dalai Lama is without question the leader of all Tibetans. However, they also desire freedom and independence more than anything else.

Seven years in the making, When The Dragon Swallowed The Sun shows an unprecedented inside perspective on the Tibetan community in exile, its young generation, and their struggle to free their homeland, Tibet. This film reveals an internal conflict that has been dividing Tibetans and hindering their movement for decades. It also provides scenes from India, Beijing and Chinese occupied Lhasa (Tibet’s capital) that have never been filmed before in such quality.

Also for the first time, this film introduces the only officially recognized descendant of the Great Religious Kings of Tibet. Continuing a 1400-year-old lineage, 18-year-old Lhagyari Trichen Namgyal Wangchuk was crowned by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in June 2004 in Dharamsala, India. With exclusive footage from the coronation, intimate interviews, and access to the family’s archive material, When The Dragon Swallowed The Sun explores the struggle of a young Tibetan King alongside the peers of his generation. It reveals for the first time how they try to reflect on their history while they redefine their identities in this new world of shifting politics and changing religious devotion.

With the countdown to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the controversy about the Olympic torch route as the backdrop, the film uses exclusive interviews and breathtaking environmental footage. The audience is given a rare experience of being part of a movement that takes place within some of the most spectacular sites in the world. 

Documentary Feature

Produced by

Free Motion Films

Post by


Director Dirk Simon Writer Dirk Simon and Kristen Riordan Executive Producer Cle Riordan, Dennis Riordan Producer Dennis Haysbert, Vanessa Philippe, Dirk Simon Co-Producer John Caulkins Associate Producer Lana Veneer Line Producer (India) Meghna Singh Cinemetographer Robert Muratore and Jeff Pointer Second Unit Director Alexandre O. Philippe Narrator Dennis Haysbert Editor Dave Krahling Color-Correction Dave Krahling Animation Chad Herschberger
Composer Phillip Glass (theme music), Damien Rice (additional music), Thom Yorke (additional music), and John Moses (clarinet soloist)

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