The epic Taiwanese film Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, a saga about Taiwanese Aboriginal resistance to Japanese colonial rule, has found a new audience in the exiled Tibetan community in Dharamsala, India.
Tibetan Buddhist monks and young people alike are watching the movie on their TV sets and computers, Tibetan writer and activist Tenzin Tsundue said.
“My friend Dr Tseng Chien-yuan (曾建元) of the National Taiwan University introduced me to the film and gave me a DVD set of it. He even took me with his family to the film’s location on the outskirts of Taipei,” said Tsundue, who later took the movie to his community in India.
Ever since its first screening among Tibetans in July last year, there has been an “unprecedented craze” about the film, he said.
Tibetan activist Dorjee Tsetan said Tibetans can identify with the movie.
“The courage with which Taiwanese fought for freedom against the Japanese is what makes every Tibetan relate to the story of Seediq Bale,” he said.
Directed by Taiwanese director Wei Te-sheng (魏德聖), the 2011 film depicts the tragic Wushe Incident in 1930 when the Seediq tribe, led by one of its leaders, Mona Rudao, rebelled against Japanese rule in central Taiwan.
Tashi Tsering, a Tibetan Buddhist monk who watched the two-part film with other monks from his monastery, said it was at once both great and scary.
“The movie is action-packed — the sword fighting is fantastic — but I was scared most of the time. This is the first Taiwanese film I have ever seen and I love it,” he said.
Sonam Dolker, a young Tibetan teacher, said she was moved to tears by the story.
“I cried when I saw the women hang themselves in despair in the jungle. I wished they had fought alongside the men as my mother did against the invading Chinese army,” Dolker said.
Tsundue drew comparisons between the story of the Seediq tribe and that of the Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom.
“Tibetan self-immolations are efforts to speak to the conscience of the Chinese people,” Tsundae said, referring to Tibetans that have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule over Tibet.
However, unlike the tragic ending of the film, Tsundue said, there is hope for Tibet’s future.
“Our struggle for freedom is a challenging one, but we have His Holiness the Dalai Lama with us,” he said.