Tibet in Song

Winner of Sundance Film Festival – Special Jury Prize

In the West, surrounded by devices, instant downloads and an ever-changing onslaught of new music and performers, a simple song is something easily taken for granted.

In the East, in Tibet, folk songs serve as the connective tissue between regions, passed down in the oral tradition which was placed under the harsh Communist Chinese rule after 50 years of occupation. Tibet was a sovereign nation for thousands of years, with its own music, heritage, laws and customs. Tibet In Song examines what happens when one man, Ngawang Choephel, a Tibetan native who fled his country of origin for India at the age of two, joining thousands (including the Dali Lama) seeking refuge from the Chinese occupation. In 1995, Choephel returned to Tibet to make a documentary film on Tibetan music rescuing his culture from extinction. But soon after Choephel was arrested on charges of espionage by Chinese authorities. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, serving nearly seven years before his highly publicized release in 2002 with the help of then- Vice President Al Gore, Paul McCartney, and Annie Lennox, among many others. Undeterred by his seven years of imprisonment, Choephel was ever determined to finish his film and production resumed immediately after his release.

With stunning cinematography of Tibet and rare access to voices of the region, Tibet In Song is the story of one man and one nation struggling to save the culture of their people. The film weaves a mesmerizing story of beauty, pain, brutality and resilience, introducing Tibet to the world in a way never seen before.


  • 2009 Sundance Film Festival – Special Jury Prize

  •  2009 Calgary International Film Festival – Best Documentary

  • 2009 Asian American International Film Festival – Best Emerging Director

  • 2009 Watch Docs International Human Rights Festival – Audience Award and Special Jury Mention

  • CINE Golden Eagle 2009 Award Winner

Genre: Documentary
Format: HD
Episodes: 1 Episode
Duration: 86 minutes
Language: Tibetan / English
Production Year: 2009