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Ganden: A Joyful Land directed by Ngawang Choephel
Ganden: A Joyful Land directed by Ngawang Choephel

Ganden: A Joyful Land directed by Sundance Jury Award Winner ,Ngawang Choephel, and with Creative Consultant – Singer Annie Lennox, will have its World Premiere at DOC NYC on Tuesday November 12th.

Ngawang’s prior film, Tibet in Song, won the 2009 Special Jury prize for World Cinema at the Sundance Film Festival, making Ngawang the first Tibetan to win a Sundance award,

Ganden: A Joyful Land is the story of the last remaining generation of Tibetan Buddhist monks to have studied at the renowned Ganden monastery in Tibet. High in the mountains near Lhasa, Ganden was a city unto itself, home to nearly half a million of Tibetan Buddhist scholars, as well as the founding lineage of the Gelug tradition–that of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Chinese invasion of Tibet would threaten the hundreds of years of tradition at Ganden. Hoping that if they left the monastic city empty, the Chinese army might spare it, the monks set out at night and on foot to seek safety across the Himalayas into India. This hope was not realized–the Chinese Army destroyed the ancient city shortly afterward–but survival can take many forms.

They have always been at the heart of the Tibetan refugee community where Ngawang grew up in southern India, as well as the founders of a rebuilt Ganden monastery that they struggled for decades to create, so that the teachings would not be lost. It has been Ngawang’s honor to spend the last several years with them, documenting their story. Though their numbers are slowly diminishing, these elders remain a vital link between the past and the future of Tibetan Buddhism.

Director Ngawang Choephel is an award-winning filmmaker and writer. A graduate of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala, he taught music in India before winning a Fulbright Scholarship to study international music and filmmaking at Middlebury College in the United States. He is a recipient of Middlebury College’s Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree, Peace Abbey’s Courage of Conscience Award, and Lobsang Wangyal’s Best Act in Exile Award, and is a Sundance Institute Fellow.

While filming his documentary “Tibet in Song”, Ngawang was arrested by Chinese authorities and accused of espionage, for which he was sentenced to 18 years in prison. International pressure secured his early release in 2002, and he resumed work on his film. “Tibet in Song” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 where it won the Special Jury Award in the World Documentary Competition. Ngawang received international acclaim and numerous awards for his film, including the CINE Golden Eagle Award; Emerging Director Award, AAIFF; Best Documentary, Calgary International Film Festival; Cinema for Peace International Human Rights Award, Berlin; Best Documentary, San Louis Obispo International Film Festival; Special Jury Mention, One World International Film Festival Prague; Audience Award, Watch Docs International Human Rights Film Festival; Special Jury Mention, Watch Docs International Human Rights Film Festival; and Audience Award, Movies that Matter, the Hague.

Now living in the United States, Ngawang continues to be a high-profile member of the exiled Tibetan community.

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