By Tenzin Dorjee
Phayul Special Correspondent
NEW YORK, AUGUST 4: In a major milestone for Tibetan filmmaking, Tenzin Tsetan Choklay, a New York based Tibetan filmmaker, has won the 'Emerging Director Award' at the Asian American International Film Festival in New York City on Saturday. Choklay's documentary film, 'Bringing Tibet Home', was screened on Thursday to a full-house audience, that was visibly mesmerized by the film and stayed transfixed through the Q&A session.
"It is a great honor to be bestowed this award and I am grateful to the Asian American International Film Festival for the selection," said Choklay after receiving the award. "I feel proud to to have been able to represent the Tibetan people not just in this festival but at numerous events around the world. I'm humbled and moved by the interest and love shown to this film by audiences at every single festival screenings so far."
'Bringing Tibet Home' is a documentary that follows Tenzing Rigdol, a well-known Tibetan artist, on a mission to smuggle 20,000 kilograms of Tibetan soil into India for a site-specific art installation. The installation was a tribute to his father, who spent his last days in a hospital in New York dreaming of returning to Tibet and setting foot on his native soil. When his father passed away with his dream unfulfilled, Rigdol vowed to make this dream come true, through art, for thousands of Tibetan refugees in India.
Tenzing Rigdol welcomed the award as a great honor for a deserving filmmaker. "Tenzin Tsetan Choklay has made us all very proud by winning the Emerging Director award at such a prestigious film festival where many other promising directors also competed," said Rigdol. "I believe that this is just his warmup routine."
"Our film has had so much goodwill behind it from the very beginning and I feel thankful to all our supporters who believed in this project," added Choklay. "I also feel privileged to have been able to work with my friend and artist Tenzing Rigdol, who has created the most profound and meaningful work of art with his soil project. His work speaks to the soul and I am happy to share his passion with the world through this film."
Asked about what the award means for the future of Tibetan filmmaking, Choklay said, "I hope that there will be many more Tibetan filmmakers in the future who will go out and share all kinds of stories with the world. So far, in our community, there's a lack of people in the creative field but I hope this void will be filled soon. I also feel that our community has to make it a point to support and nurture talents and understand the need, importance and value of art and culture."
'Bringing Tibet Home' had its first premiere in October 2013 at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea and has traveled to a number of International Film Festivals around the world. The film previously won the Young European Jury Award at FIPA Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels, in France. The filmmakers are currently planning a tour of North America and Europe to hold a series of screenings. Those who are interested in holding a screening in their community may contact the director by logging onto www.bringingtibethome.com