Sarah Pirozek's rockumentary record of a 1996 benefit concert in Golden Gate Park is half musical event, half argument against the Chinese suppression of Tibet as made by monks, crusaders, and (alas) guest rock stars. The disjunction between the serious nature of Chinese atrocities on the one hand, and the carnival nature of the concert on the other, is something Pirozek is aware of and tries to bridge with a conscious acknowledgement of the gap. She leaves in, with a sigh, footage of happy teen-agers yelling "Free Tibet!" without any evident clue as to what they're shouting about. The incessant gum-chewing of Adam Yauch, the Beastie Boy who helped organize the affair, is also chronicled in detail. MTV-style edited footage of the Chinese army, mixed with some well-spoken exiles and activists, helps complete the picture. The rest is concert footage, some of it amusing. Bjsrk hops around like an agitated kewpie doll while Beck turns out to resemble a wizened Dana Carvey. The hearts of these "dumb rock stars" -- as one of them calls himself -- are in the right place, and so is this film's.
-- Gregg Rickman
Free Tibet screens Friday through Thursday, Dec. 11-17, at 7:15 and 9:15 p.m. (also Saturday and Wednesday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 4 p.m.), at the Red Vic, 1727 Haight (at Clayton), S.F. Admission is $6; call 668-3994.