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director on gendun choephel


As we travelled around in India, I never thought that he was a reincarnated lama. he was definitely an intelligent person, very sharp. But he would smoke, drink and fuck with women. but at first I thought, because he fucked with women, that he wasn't learned.

Golok Jigme, 85, travel companion: from the same region as Gendun Choephel. In the early 1940s he and Choephel travelled as pilgrims across India. He died in Kathmandu shortly after the interview.

In those times the Tibetans accepted only tradition. For instance, they forbade soccer. They claimed that soccer players would kick the head of the holy Buddha. If a person did something new, you could be sure it would be prohibited. But a society needs to progress; it can’t stagnate.

Thubten Wangpo, 75, teacher: he met Gendun Choephel once when he was 17. This encounter influenced his whole life. He is a retired teacher and lives in Lhasa.

Golok Jigme   Thupten Wangpo   Tsering Shakya

Gendun Choephel was an ordinary monk, who came to India and saw the changes that were taking place in the outside world. And he reflects on the stagnation of Tibet and this you can see in his writings, in his poems, that he reflects on this change and the need for change in Tibet.

Tsering Shakya, 46, historian: teaches modern Tibetan history at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He lives in London with his family.

No Tibetan had written the political history of Tibet before. In his book he writes that Tibet and China are two independent unities. Sometimes China attacked Tibet and sometimes Tibet made war against China and even conquered its capital city. He described how the Tibetans besieged the Chinese; he wrote about Tibet’s power at that time and about how the Tibetans defeated the Chinese army. Unlike the historians before him, he based his writings on ancient Dunhuag documents.

Tashi Tsering, 45, researcher: director of the Amnye Machen Institut (AMI) in India, which is dedicated to the study of Tibetan laymen’s history. He lives in India and New Zealand.

Tashi Tsering   Alak Yongtsin  
Reflections on Tibet
a film by Luc Schaedler
Switzerland 2005
1:1,85 • 35mm • Colours
97 minutes • Ov/d

He became famous when he built little boats with mechanical parts from old clocks. He told me that it should be possible to build a mill that isn’t powered by water.

Alak Yongtsin, 98, schoolfriend: has lived his whole life in eastern Tibet. He was sent to a Chinese gulag for a few years. Today he lives in a remote monastery in eastern Tibet.