Brad Pitt mystery surrounds Leamington documentary maker's event

Hollywood A-lister Brad Pitt is at the centre of a mystery which an award-winning documentary maker who lives in Leamington is trying to solve.

Tuesday, 15th March 2016, 7:00 am
Nick Gray presents the DVD of his documentary Escape From Tibet to His Holiness the Dali Lama.

In the days running up to a promotional event for the latest edition of his book Escape from Tibet and the screening of the classic documentary of the same name which he made in the 1990s, Nick Gray is asking people if they can remember seeing or hearing of the movie Seven Years in Tibet being filmed in Leamington.

Mr Gray, 69, will be referring to the film in his introductory talk at the screening of Escape from Tibet at the Royal Spa Cinema next Tuesday (see page 48)and during his research he noticed Leamington being used as a location for filming.

He said: “Making Escape from Tibet was a risky project.

The cover of the book Escape from Tibet.

“We knew the Chinese authorities would refuse us permission to film in Tibet, and if discovered filming undercover our equipment would be confiscated and we would be deported.

“Other film-makers who faced similar difficulties took a different course of action.

Filming for Martin Scorsese’s film about the Dalai Lama called Kundun took place in Morocco in 1997.

“In the same year Argentina stood in for the Land of the Snow Mountains when Seven Years in Tibet was mainly filmed in Argentina.

The cover of the book Escape from Tibet.

“I checked the list of locations for the Brad Pitt film, and it also includes Canada, Austria, and Leamington. How did that happen?

“Seven Years in Tibet’ concerns the Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer’s visit to Tibet in the 1950’s and his friendship with the young Dalai Lama.

“Which scenes were filmed in Leamington?

“Does anyone remember Brad Pitt being filmed as Heinrich Harrer perhaps bathing in the Spa waters, or being honoured at a banquet in the Town Hall, or strolling through Jephson Gardens on a snowy day?

“Can any reader of the Leamington Courier shed any light on this?”

Escape from Tibet was produced and released by ITV in 1997 and tells the true story of Tenzin and Pasang — two brothers from Tibet who decided to cross the Himalayas and flee Chinese repression.

The book was first published in 2012 with a new edition released in late 2014.

The brothers both now live in London and have stayed in touch with Mr Gray,

He said: “When you make documentaries you make films about real people and you become interested and involved with them.

“And if things work out they become your friends.”