‘Tibet in Song’ provides a “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,” writes the production company on the website for the film.
The director’s story
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 planned to use his new training to preserve Tibetan song and dance – traditions that were endangered because Tibetan teens were more interested in pop music, and because Chinese officials were conducting a systematic campaign to obliterate Tibetan culture.
In 1995, he went to Tibet to record and videotape Tibetan folk songs in order to make a documentary film, spending two months driving through the countryside filming people singing. Then he was arrested by China’s State Security Bureau and held incommunicado and without trial for over 14 months. When he was finally brought to trial in a closed court, it found him guilty of “espionage and counter-revolutionary activities”, and handed down a sentence of 18 years, one of the longest ever given to a Tibetan political prisoner.
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, after six and a half year’s imprisonment. He now lives in New York City pursuing his filmmaking career.
“If you sang a folk song like this, they would immediately pull your hair, kick, and arrest you…”
Tibetan singer interviewed in the film
China — with Tibet marked with a red line
‘Tibet in Song’ – official website of the film:
‘Tibet in Song’ – official profile on Facebook:
Ngawang Chophel’s biography in Wikipedia, the open encyclopedia: wikipedia.org/wiki/Ngawang_Chophel
Interview with Ngawang ChophelWeekend America – 9 August 2008:
‘The Crime of Cultural Preservation’