Posted just last week to Vimeo (password duihua), The Dialogue is a film by Wang Wo that looks at the Chinese government’s increasingly restrictive policies toward non-governmental contact between minority groups (specifically Tibetan and Uyghur) and Han Chinese. The film centers on an attempt by Chinese intellectuals and human rights lawyers to make contact with the Dalai Lama.
Spanning at least three years, the documentary begins with the successful 2010 Skype meeting between the Dalai Lama and these Han intellectuals. Through interviews with one of the organizers, it goes on to look at the aftermath of that meeting as well as examining the possibility of future conversations between Tibetans, Hans, and Uyghurs.
The film features the likes of Tibetan activist Woeser, recently arrested Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, human rights activist Teng Biao, and writer Wang Lixiong (author of Yellow Peril), among others.
Unsurprisingly, The Dialogue ultimately gives a negative portrayal of the Chinese government’s attitude toward minority populations. Many of the people involved in the Dalai Lama Skype meeting were later detained. The conclusion is that the fate of open dialogue is grim, since the government is determined to stop any non-sanctioned communication.
The Dialogue takes on heightened significance in light of the March 1 Kunming train station stabbings. To what extent will future dialogue between Hans and Uyghurs be possible? Or will the fallout from the recent terrorist attack crush the last remaining trust between these increasingly disparate parties?