the film ANGRY MONK uses images and voices from present-day tibet to reconstruct the life of gendun choephel, a rebellious tibetan monk and dreamer who left his home to travel in a foreign land (india) and returned to his homeland as a foreigner. on his return, choephel was accused of political insurrection by the tibetan government and thrown into prison; in 1951 he died a broken man. in the tragedy of his personal story lies the universal human drama of the individual struggling for freedom against an established order.

gendun choephel’s life spans a crucial period in tibet, between the british invasion of 1903 and the chinese occupation in 1951. brought violently into the twentieth century by the colonizing british, tibet proclaimed independence in 1913 and then underwent several decades of internal struggle between reform and recidivism. during this time, when tibet remained closed to the world, gendun choephel was open to new experiences and ideas, which he documented in his writing, articles, pictures and sketches.

in recent years, gendun choephel has become a figure of great interest and social importance. for young tibetans who seek to voice the various experiences of a lost homeland, he became a figure of identification. while their parents have "lost" tibet, the younger generation is searching for points of identification in their own history that would allow them to see their society differently. at the same time, tibet has become highly topical in the west, both because of its struggle for liberation and its spiritual traditions. the liberation of tibet from chinese occupation is the focus of many activist groups, while the western fascination with tibetan history is reflected in recent films like SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET and KUNDUN.

in the west, however, we have a tendency to idealize tibet. we prefer to see tibetans as poor victims rather than as agents of their own history. gendun choephel’s life story is a powerful alternative to this western image of tibet. by following the footsteps of gendun choephel, the film critically examines the recent history of tibet and challenges our idealized picture by focusing on "everyday" tibet in the here and now.





visual presentation





shooting pictures



courtyard in zhoepang, birthplace of gendun choephel | tibet 1999


"is the world round or flat?" | article of gendun choephel in the TIBET MIRROR, 1937

2002 angry monk productions
grüngasse 6 | 8004 zurich | switzerland