Filmed over 18 months, The Unwinking Gaze follows the Dalai Lama as he tries to engage the Chinese government over the future of Tibet. The unprecedented access, to one of the most iconic figures on earth, was negotiated over the space of a year between filmmaker, Joshua Dugdale and the Dalai Lama's private office. The result is a unique portrait of a Buddhist God King as he tries to strike a balance between his religion and the real politic required to bring China into a debate they don't want. The documentary shows a side of the Nobel Peace Prize-winner that has never been seen before. The David and Goliath struggle between him and the Chinese reveals his innate political pragmatism - by persuading the global giant that he is the only man who will be able to resolve the issue of Tibet. This intimate film is privy to the 72 year old's public appearances, his private audiences and his most important meetings, where his persona can change from humble and humorous to that of the 'seasoned' politician. The documentary ends with the Dalai Lama on the world stage uniting Democrats, Republicans and even George Bush in an extraordinary and unprecedented appeal to China. 'The Unwinking Gaze' is not 18 months in the life of the Dalai Lama; it is his life's work in 18 months.
The documentary assumes a moderate knowledge of eastern affairs but is an absolutely fascinating account of what I am sure was a very politically difficult situation to film. The times that the politicians asked for the camera to be turned off is inevitable but frustrating.