Tibet in Song

Director: Ngawang Choephel
Screenwriters: Ngawang Choephel


Too often an oversimplified mythology has been applied to discussions about Tibet and its history, which makes this compelling and erudite documentary especially welcome. Filmmaker Ngawang Choephel is the personification of the struggle to preserve Tibetan cultural identity, and his voyage and attempted documentation of Tibetan folk music and musicians represents an exploration of the realities of contemporary Tibet that is both dramatic and daring. Tibetans call their land β€œan ocean of music and dance,” yet despite centuries of history, there are only a handful of musicians and teachers left who can recount the meaning and importance of this identity.

Decades of occupation, and the institution of Chinese policies and law designed to silence the traditional voices of Tibet, have resulted in an insidious co-optation of this national heart and soul by Chinese-sponsored pop culture. In his efforts to preserve the authentic music of his land, filmmaker Choephel himself becomes a victim of this repression, which transforms this saga from merely a professional quest to an especially potent and impactful statement.

Bringing this story to life, including presenting the beauty of Tibetan song, makes this work both resonant and irresistible. Choephel is both an artist and a voice of resistance who deserves our undying respect.

β€” Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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