was seventeen years old at the time of filming and had never set foot in his
country, but Tibet’s teenaged king in exile would still be a much more
enlightened ruler than the occupying Chinese military and their puppets. Namgyal
Wangchuk Trichen Lhagyari is a student, who lives like many Tibetan refuges in
India, but in addition to being a king, he is also a filmmaker. Namgyal
Wangchuk, the 18th Trichen Lhagyari documents his life and the
living conditions of other Tibetan exiles in My Country is Tibet (trailer here), produced by his mentor
Dirk Simon, which premieres this Sunday on New York’s Thirteen, as part of the
BYkids showcase of youthful filmmakers.
filmmaker, and nice kid—that would be a pretty good place for most teens to
start at, but Namgyal Wangchuk is not like typical high school students. He was
officially crowned as the King of Tibet, by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. His
father, the 17th Trichen Lhagyari, spent over twenty years in a
Communist prison cell. After his release, the reigning Dharma King heeded the
Dalai Lama’s advice and sought asylum for his family in India.
the record, Tibet’s Dharma King does not seem to be the sort of centralized
potentate one might imagine. After all, the 17th Trichen Lhagyari
was also elected to several terms in the exiled government’s parliament.
Regardless, 18 clearly feels a responsibility for his people, even while he
washes his own clothes in his family’s modest home.
the help of Simon, Trichen Lhagyari 18 also explains the efforts of the
expatriate Tibetan community to preserve their language and culture. Frankly,
the extent of the Communist Party’s cultural ethnic cleansing is horrific, but
grassroots organizations like the Rajpur Tibetan Refugee Factory persevere
Modest but charismatic, Namgyal Wangchuk Trichen
Lhagyari is an absolutely super public spokesman for the Tibetan people. As a
mentor, Simon shared a special affinity for his protégé and the people of
Dharamshala, having defected from East Germany to the FRG as a young man.
Although just twenty-seven minutes, My
Country gives viewers a nutshell recap of CCP aggression and an immersive
sense of life for the Tibetan community in exile. The truth is, the King
represents his people quite well. Highly recommended for teens of all
backgrounds, My Country is Tibet airs
this Sunday (1/31) on participating PBS stations nationwide.
Labels: BYkids, PBS, Tibet