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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Film by Tibetan Wins Best Documentary Prize at CIFF

October 8, 2009

phayul - October 05, 2009 by Ben Tsui

The tenth annual Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) bestowed New
York based Tibetan filmmaker Ngawang Choephel's TIBET IN SONGS with the
coveted Best Documentary Jury Prize Award at the Closing Gala party on
Saturday, Oct. 3. Cheers of surprise and excitement were loud and jubilant
as CIFF Festival Director of Programming Trevor Smith announced its winning
result."The Jury chose TIBET IN SONG because the film was deeply personal
and politically relevant. As a complete documentary, it was illuminating and
moving," said Smith.

Ngawang Choephel was born in 1966 in Tibet. His family fled the Chinese
occupation when he was two years old. Choephel grew up in the Tibetan
refugee settlement of Mundgod in southern India. He was fascinated by
traditional Tibetan music since childhood. He graduated from the Tibetan
Institute for the Performing Arts in Dharamsala in 1992. He also earned a
visiting scholarship to study ethnomuciology and filmmaking in Vermount,
USA. In 1995, while pursuing the opportunity to record musical footage for a
project inside Tibet, Choepel was arrested by the Communist Chinese
government on charges of espionage. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison
before his much publicized release in 2002.

Documentary Programmer Brad Goddard explained, "Tibet in Song was the first
film I selected for the series, and is, perhaps, the most accessible.
Filmmaker Ngawang Choephel was imprisoned by China while making the film,
but his approach seems to rise above the politics and religion and focus
right at the heart of what makes Tibet special: it's music. Much like we in
Canada are bombarded with American culture, Tibet is bombarded with Chinese
culture, and Choephel does a truly beautiful job of capturing Tibet and
showing the erosion of its culture into China. An outsider, such as myself,
assumed that it was simply a matter of Chinese political oppression--which
plays a large role in the disappearing Tibetan culture--but the complacence
of Tibetan youth weened on Chinese pop music is perhaps an even greater
threat. Force gives something for people to rebel against; indifference is a
more difficult battle. Tibet in Song makes the viewer see something worth
saving--something distinct and wonderful."

Tibetan Assoication of Alberta (TAA) President Tashi Phuntsok was very
excited upon hearing the news. "I feel the documentary was very authentic
about the situation inside today's occupied Tibet where there is no freedom
or rights to preserve our endangered traditional songs and dances. The film
educated people from the free world the values of enjoying one's own
rightful personal culture!"

CIFF will ship the coveted glass trophy award to Ngawang Choephel from
Calgary next week. Congratulations and Tashi Delek!
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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