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Free Tibet Movie Review

helped didn film bands

The Free Tibet movie is a lot like the Free Tibet concert of June 1996: One Big Blur. To truly enjoy the two-day event at the Polo Fields in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, you didn't have to be 14 years old, but it helped. You didn't have to be bombed (I wasn't), but it helped. You didn't have to be an amnesiac about better concerts of the ‘90s, but it helped. Free Tibet was a concept no one seemed to get but the organizers, and they tried to drill it into everyone's head with lectures, eyewitnesses, and literature, none of which the audience members would have paid 50 bucks to experience. The audience came for the bands: Beastie Boys, Biz Markie, Cibo Matto, Foo Fighters, Richie Havens, John Lee Hooker, Hugh Masekela, Pavement, Smashing Pumpkins, and A Tribe Called Quest on Saturday; Beck, Biork, Fugees, Buddy Guy, Ima, Yoko and Sean Lennon, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Skatalites, and Sonic Youth on Sunday. Most of the bands were whisked on and off stage within 30 minutes, so at the exact moment you were beginning to get into a set, it was over. It's even less satisfying in the film, because between the backstage blather bits and the stock footage of Tibet, you get a few seconds of this and that without knowing why (or if) they're important. With the best intentions in the world, Free Tibet was a shapeless concert and Sarah Pirozek's film reflects that shapelessness without adding anything new and/or illuminating. Some 14-year-old runaways in my vicinity were so excited that they were actually seeing and hearing what they thought was the 1996 equivalent of Woodstock. I hope they're not disillusioned by this film. There's time enough for shattered illusions when they're 17 and beyond.

1998 90m/C D: Sarah Pirozek; C: Evan Bernard, Roman Coppola, Spike Jonze.

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