The myth of Tibet as a peaceable kingdom is shaken by this documentary portrait of Gendun Choephel (1903-1951) an angry, sensualist monk who riled the Tibetan government.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
Largely ignored or reviled in his lifetime, Gendun Choephel (1903-1951) has become an important figure in a rapidly changing Tibet. Choephel was angry; he was also a passionate sensualist (he smoked, drank and translated the Kama Sutra into Tibetan) and tragically ahead of his time: all of which did little to endear him to the Tibetan government. A man of impressive wit and intelligence, he lived almost 30 years as a monk, and left disillusioned, but determined to see what else the world had to offer. Director Luc Schaedler retraces Choephel’s travels across India and Tibet and retells his story as personal odyssey and symbol of Tibet’s wavering responses to China and to modernisation.
“The myth of Tibet as peaceable kingdom destroyed by Chinese occupation was an idea that Choephel himself exposed with his research into Tibet’s warring past. Religious fundamentalism, be it Catholic doctrine or Buddhist philosophy, is the same the world over, and a culture that stops is a culture that rots. And that is a truth that Choephel fought and died for.” — Vancouver Film Festival