Angry Monk, a film on Tibetan scholar Gendun Choephel, by Swiss film maker Luc Schaedler is having its North American premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2006.
Angry Monk is being featured under the World Documentary Competition category at the festival.
Shannon Kelley, Associate Director of Sundance’s Documentary Film Program, says the following about the film. ‘Driving a wedge into popular thinking about Tibet, Luc Schaedler tells the amazing story of a man who did the same. Gendun Choephel was a Tibetan Buddhist monk in the early twentieth century. Well before the Chinese occupation, during a time of deep religious conservatism and national isolation, he formed a conviction about the importance of Tibet’s engagement with the world and modernity. With this impetus, he undertook extended travels throughout Tibet, India, and Sri Lanka, seeking experiences and conducting research to construct a historical vision of a more internationally engaged Tibet. Unearthing forgotten texts demonstrating past military engagements with China, and publishing a groundbreaking newspaper from India for a widely dispersed Tibetan diaspora, Choephel sealed his own tragic fate of persecution and imprisonment by the Chinese. Today, modern Tibetans still respond to the relevance of his vision, which upends the Western notion of Tibet as a sacred zone, separate from history. Schaedler’s evocative filmmaking does honor to his complex subject, tracing the journeys of Choephel (incidentally, a hard-drinking, sexually voracious lover of life) via exquisite archival footage, interviews with contemporaries, and poignant modern views of the settings of his life, now seemingly muted by Choephel’s absence. Indeed, the absent monk is a powerful presence in this resurrection of his unique story.”
Angry Monk will be screened on January 22, 24, 26 and 28.
Luc Schaedler was born in Zurich, Switzerland, and studied social anthropology and film theory at the University of Zurich. Since 1986, Schaedler has been the barkeeper, operator, and program coordinator for Zurich’s Cinema Xenix.
You can get more details about the documentary from its website www.angrymonkthefilm.ch. Following is the website’s description of Gendun Choephel and the documentary.
“Tibet – the mystical roof of the world, peopled with enlightened monks. Only one of them wouldn’t toe the line: Gendun Choephel, the errant monk who left the monastic life in 1934 in search of a new challenge. A free spirit and multifaceted individual, he was far ahead of his time and has since become a seminal figure, a symbol of hope for a free Tibet. A rebel and voluble critic of the establishment, Gendun Choephel kindled the anger of the Tibetan authorities.
“The cinematic journey through time portrays the life of this unorthodox monk, revealing a face of old Tibet that goes against popular cliches. The film makes an abundance of unique and rare historical footage available to the general public for the first time. But it does not dwell on the past; rather it skillfully oscillates between tradition and modernity. Archival images of ancient caravans and monasteries give way to scenes of discos and multi-lane highways in Lhasa, where pilgrims prostrate themselves as they circle the holy temple. Angry Monk offers a fascinating insight into a country whose eventful past is refracted in the multiplicity and contradictions of everyday life.
“Ultimately, this road movie also tells the story of a man who left home to search for something that could have liberated traditional Tibet from its rigidity. An outsider who was always open to new things, he eventually became a stranger in his homeland and homeless in foreign lands — a wanderer between worlds.”
The 2006 Sundance Film Festival begins on January 19 and goes on till January 29, 2006 in Park City, Utah.