Michael Stipe, Rancid Attend Tibet Film Premier

Documentary mixes scenes from concert with footage of Chinese government's brutal 30-year occupation

NEW YORK -- If there's any question that the Free Tibet movie has the power to move, consider this: Its New York premier

Thursday night brought together rockers with as varied backgrounds as R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, Sean Lennon, members of the punk rock band Rancid

and rapper KRS-One.

And at least one of them was brought to tears.

The hour-and-a-half documentary of the 1996 Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park drew a celebrity-studded crowd

to the Sony Theater on 19th and Broadway, including the Beastie Boys, whose Adam Yauch is the main organizer of the annual benefit concert,

which has raised millions in its goal to help free Tibetans from Chinese oppression.

Also in attendance were KRS-One, Sean Lennon, John Popper of Blues Traveler, members of Sonic Youth, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's

Russell Simins, actress Claire Danes, Rancid members, designer Anna Sui and A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip.

After the screening, Stipe said that several scenes in the film made him cry, a sentiment

shared by other attendees, according to Kay Dougherty, national coordinator of Students For a Free Tibet, one of the organizations that

has received funding from the Milarepa Fund, the organization behind the concerts. "I think the movie really put the issue in terms that people

could understand," Dougherty said. "I enjoyed the music performances, but what really moved me is the scenes with A Tribe Called Quest.

They were clearly moved by the whole issue and at the first concert they didn't know anything about Tibet and they got put onto it and you

could see that they really wanted to do all they could to help and that they were effected as human beings."

Some of the memorable scenes in the film, which is still seeking a distributor for release, includes a hilarious moment in which the rocking

rappers, the Beastie Boys, are referred to as the "pizza boys," Dougherty said, and another in which Milarepa's Maria Ma has to explain to a

journalist that it is the "Tibetan" Freedom Concert, not "Tahitian."

Another scene focuses on rapper Biz Marie's galvanizingly outrageous set as well as the sight of blues legend John Lee Hooker playing his

signature blues to the accompaniment of a mosh pit.

The documentary, which juxtaposes scenes from the concert with an equal amount of historical footage of the Chinese government's brutal

30-year occupation of Tibet, also features a poignant scene in which Palden Gyatso, a Tibetan monk imprisoned for 33 years by the Chinese,

blesses the Milarepa staffers and thanks them for using their energy to make something positive happen in his homeland.

An invitation-only post-screening party at the intimate Washington Square Park restaurant Clementines, attended by several hundred, including

INXS singer Michael Hutchence, models Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Linda Evangelista, Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, Patti

Smith and Adam Yauch's parents, was the scene of more bonding and learning, according to Dougherty.

For one night, at least, many of the attendees seemed genuinely moved by the occasion of their gathering, above and beyond the chance to

schmooze and dress up. "I had a long talk with [Blues Traveler singer] John Popper at the party," Dougherty said. "And he said he was really

moved by the footage in the movie of the monks making sand mandalas."

The movie shows the monks creating intricate designs in the sand which they destroy as soon as they finish, a cultural tradition which helps the

monks to develop a sense of the impermanence of things in a material world. "John was really into the idea of the impermanence of

everything," Dougherty said. "About creating for the sake of creation. He really connected with that."

One of the images that stuck the most, however, she added, was the final scene in which Yauch and other Milarepa volunteers spread the

mandala sand into the Pacific. "It really makes a visual picture of throwing the sand into the water to spread peace all over the world,"

Dougherty said.

A three-CD set of music from this summer's Tibetan Freedom Concerts in New York, Tibetan Freedom Concert, featuring music from

Rancid, Patti Smith, the Beastie Boys, Stipe and Mike Mills of R.E.M. and several artists from the San Francisco shows, was released Tuesday.

(SonicNet's Cheri Cheng contributed to this report.) [Sat., Nov. 8, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]