A month of Tibetan culture, identity and perseverance in film

Greetings everyone!

I am so delighted to say that the month of January, which we celebrated as ‘Renaissance Month’, was a huge success in many aspects! Film nights and engaging discussions were hosted by various SFT University Chapters in Toronto. All the SFT members from the chapters put great efforts into planning the film nights,  and screening three Tibetan Documentaries: Prayers Answered at University of Toronto, Leaving Fear Behind at Ryerson University and Tibet in Song at York University.

For me personally, Tibet in Song touched me deeply. As someone who has performed and been involved in helping sustain Tibetan cultural songs and dances, this was a documentary that resonated with me.

Ngawang Chophel, on the right, was imprisoned in Tibet by Chinese authorities for trying to record Tibetan musical culture

Imagine the following:
You are 7 years old and your favourite hobby is to sing and dance. Now fast forward 30 years into your future, your passion and love of music has grown and you decide to go back home to your country to learn more and help preserve your culture, only to be thrown in jail and accused of “spying” and “threatening” the government a few months into your visit. This is basically what happened to Ngawang Choephel minus the part about starting at the age of 7. That’s just me. Me because throughout the movie I was imagining myself in his position. The more I thought about his life and how he was severely punished for no legitimate reason, let alone political or criminal, the more I wondered about the threat China poses to Tibetan culture and arts.

SFT Canada's National Director Urgyen Badheytsang talking about themes of Tibetan resistance and awareness in 'Leaving Fear Behind' at Ryerson University

This was one of the three movies that were screened and discussed during Renaissance month. I’ve learned a lot from the film nights during the month of January. That you can feel empowered by taking the initiative to watch, read and learn more about Tibet. We had amazing guest speakers as well, including the voice behind High Peaks Pure Earth Blog, Dechen Pembala who was actually directly involved in the successful sneaking out of the tapes recorded by Dhondup Wangchen in Leaving Fear Behind.

Dechen Pemba, the creator of Highpeakspureearth.com, talks about her experiences in Tibet and the importance of the message behind Dhondup Wangchen's film.

The attendance exceeded our expectations and the guest speakers added to the beautiful messages delivered by all three documentaries.

Thank You to everyone who came out and supported us as well as the new faces we look forward to seeing more of!

In Solidarity and Peace,

Sonam Chokey

Dhondup Wangchen, pictured above, is currently enduring harsh physical labor as a political prisoner in Tibet for simply recording local Tibetans' opinion on Chinese development.


One response to “A month of Tibetan culture, identity and perseverance in film

  1. Great job Sonam! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to watch “Tibet in Song”, but your brief review has definitely tempted me to watch it.
    Bhoe Gyalo!

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