a good refugee
a good refugee
Dec 5, 2020
Tibetan art in exile with Tenzing Sonam and Tenzin Dolker (61 mins)

Gelek and Choeyang speak with Tenzing Sonam and Tenzin Dolker about the growth and evolution of Tibetan arts in the diaspora ahead of the launch of TibetFilms.com: how they first connected with art [02:04]; censorship as both restricting and liberating inside Tibet [16:20]; lack of institutional and community support for non-traditional Tibetan artists [27:00]; DIFF and TibetFilms.com [36:15]; and much more.

Episode notes

  • Guest intros and how they first connected with art. [02:40]

  • How their art evolved over the years. [10:00]

  • Does censorship inside Tibet hinder or boost creativity there? [16:20]

  • How free are you as an artist outside Tibet? [21:30]

  • Lack of institutional and community support for non-traditional, non-religious Tibetan arts. [27:00]

  • How Tibetan artists are supported vs non Tibetan artists. [31:05]

  • Dolker’s current and future projects. [34:15]

  • Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF): origin, concept, hosting a festival during a pandemic. [36:15]

  • Launching TibetFilms.com (Dec 3 - Dec 13). [41:00]

  • How people can tune into TibetFilms.com and its different offerings. [46:00]

  • Tenzing’s current and future projects. [55:20]

  • Situation in Dharamshala. [57:20]


Tenzing Sonam was born in Darjeeling, India to Tibetan refugee parents.

Working through White Crane Films, Tenzing and his wife Ritu Sarin have made more than 20 documentaries, several video installations and two dramatic features. A recurring subject in their work is the issue of Tibet, with which they have been intimately involved: personally, politically and artistically. Through their films, they have attempted to document, question and reflect on the questions of exile, identity, culture and nationalism that confront the Tibetan people.

They are the directors of the Dharamshala International Film Festival, one of India’s leading independent film festivals, which they founded in 2012. They are based in Dharamshala.

Tenzin Dolker is a Tibetan exile, born and raised in a Tibetan refugee camp in South India. Prior to her work as a photographer, Dolker was a co-founder of Dharamshala Dance Arts where she managed the day-to-day activities of the center and taught Bollywood dance and yoga. She is a vocal advocate and activist in the Tibetan Freedom Movement.

Photography gave Dolker a voice to explore, learn, question and accept her space and existence by observing and documenting people, culture and the uncertain quietness of everyday lives. In 2019, Dolker played the lead role in the Tibetan feature film, The Sweet Requiem. She’s currently based in New Orleans.


TibetFilms.com (Dec 3 - 13)

Dharamshala International Film Festival

White Crane Films

Drung Films

Nangpa la Pass 2006 shooting incident

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