Tibet in Song is both a celebration of traditional Tibetan folk music and a harrowing journey into the past fifty years of cultural repression inside Chinese controlled Tibet. Director and former Tibetan political prisoner, Ngawang Choephel, weaves a story of beauty, pain, brutality and resilience, introducing Tibet to the world in a way never before seen on film.
The beauty of traditional Tibetan folk music is showcased through a variety of working songs, songs about family and the beauty of the land. These rarely seen performances are deftly juxtaposed against startling footage of the early days of the Chinese invasion and a concise explanation of the factors leading to the Dalai Lama’s flight into exile in 1959. Ngawang Choephel sets the stage for a unique exploration of the Chinese impact on Tibetans inside Tibet.
What follows is a heartbreaking tale of cultural exploitation and resistance, which includes Ngawangs’ own eventual imprisonment for recording the very songs at the center of the film. Tibet in Song provides raw and uncensored look at Tibet as it stands today, a country plagued by Chinese brutality, yet willing to fight for the existence of its unique cultural heritage.
Tibet in Song is directed by Ngawang Choephel, and contains both original music composed by Ngawang himself, and an array of traditional folk songs sung by native Tibetans.
Dates & Times:
11:00am, Sunday 8 September
All tickets free
Ngawang Choephel is the director, writer, and producer of Tibet in Song, his feature debut. He is a graduate of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala, India and a musician who released his first album of Tibetan folk songs entitled “Melody in Exile,” in 1993.
After starting his career as a music teacher in India, he traveled to the US as a Fulbright scholar at Middlebury College, VT where he studied international music as well as filmmaking. He went to Tibet in 1995 to record and videotape Tibetan folk songs in order to make this film.
Chinese authorities arrested Ngawang in 1995, falsely charging him with espionage. He was sent to prison without a trial, where he served 7 years of an 18-year sentence. A highly publicized international campaign that began with his mother’s solitary protests, and later involved musicians like Annie Lennox, the Tibetan Freedom Concert and US Senators James Jeffords and Patrick Leahy from Vermont, finally secured his release in 2002.
Ngawang is recipient of Middlebury College’s Honorary Doctor of Arts degree, Peace Abbey’s Courage of Conscience Award, and Lobsang Wangyal’s Best Act in Exile award. He is also a Sundance Institute Fellow.