F.: Chris Menges. Prod.: George Patterson. DCP. D.: 28’. Bn.
In May 1964, British journalist George Patterson – who had lived in Eastern Tibet before the Chinese invasion – bluffed his way into the remote Tsum valley in northern Nepal where a small detachment of the guerrilla force was based. Patterson was accompanied by film crew director Adrian Cowell and cameraman Chris Menges. The three-man film team traveled with the guerrillas over a 20,000 foot pass into Tibet and captured dramatic footage of the subsequent attack on a Chinese military convoy. The CIA was furious at this lapse in security and immediately sent orders to intercept Patterson and his team before they could leave Nepal and relieve them of their film footage at any cost. But Patterson was one step ahead and both his team and their precious footage were able to escape safely from Nepal.
After causing much controversy on British television in 1966, Raid into Tibet fell out of circulation, due to, according to Cowell, U.S. and Chinese government pressure. Thereafter, the film had been left almost forgotten in Cowell’s basement for more than 40 years.
In 2010, I, as founder of the New York-based Tibet Film Archive, began an initiative to restore Adrian Cowell’s 16mm film, Raid into Tibet. This documentary contains the only known footage of Tibetan guerrilla fighters in actual combat against the Chinese military, representing an invaluable testament to the true history of the events that unfolded a half century ago.