the film, like gendun choephel’s life story, is organized into episodes selected from a wealth of events, reports, anecdotes and images — approximately three-quarters of which will be taken from the present day and one-quarter from archival material. gendun choephel’s arrest has been chosen to frame the documentary so as to encourage viewers to see his life, and the situation in tibet, in the light of his arrest. the film thus begins with the story of his arrest, but without giving away the reasons for it. what drives the story forward is our curiosity and desire for revelation, so that we feel as though we are searching not only for the reasons for the arrest, but also for the man himself.

the film unravels choephel’s life story in the form of a journey overlaid with interviews and excerpts from choephel’s own writing. we follow his traces from the barren nomadic regions near the chinese border to the labyrinthine monastery town in lhasa, after which we travel, as he did, over the himalayas into tropically hot india. after a train trip — choephel’s first — to calcutta and a pilgrimage across India ending at the open sea, we return to tibet. along the way we meet young tibetans and older contemporary witnesses who speak of choephel. the sense of an ongoing search, of being on the road, structures the drama of both his life and the film, for the journey symbolically mirrors gendun choephel’s inner development.

the interviews with choephel’s contemporaries and young tibetans have a double purpose. on one level, they link the past to the present, and us as viewers to gendun the man. on another level, their memories, anecdotes and reflections — which will inevitably sometimes contradict each other — pick up on the theme of the search for gendun choephel. in remembering him and voicing his importance to their lives, they "use" him to reflect on contemporary tibet and on their own lives.





visual presentation





shooting pictures



calcutta 1999


central tibet 1999


why in tibet everything that is innovative is a work of the devil, and everything that is old is a work of buddha?


2002 angry monk productions
grüngasse 6 | 8004 zurich | switzerland