August 17, 2009

In the Steps of Joseph Rock: Exploring a lost Tibetan kingdom in the Sino-Tibetan borderlands

August 17, 7 pm

SFU at Harbour Centre
Room: 2270, 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

Admission is free.
Detail information about this film screening: PDF.

Choni is a beautiful place on the north-eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Still rarely known to the western world, it was a Tibetan Principality with over 500 years of history and a vital cultural center on the Chinese-Tibetan borderlands. Eighty years ago, Joseph Francis Rock (1884-1962), one of the last classic explorers, embarked on his extensive expeditions across the Tibetan plateau. His remarkable article in National Geographic in 1928, "Life Among the Lamas of Choni," along with his extraordinary visual materials of the Chinese-Tibetan borderlands and its people, are unique and remain invaluable to the history of this region.

Eighty years later, this carefully crafted documentary follows in the footsteps of this legendary explorer. By blending over 500 original photographs from Rock's expeditions with modern images, and by weaving an extensively research chronology via narration and excerpts from his dairies, the film not only shows how eastern Tibet looked in the 1920s, but also portrays how the same places and people look now. It is a memorial meeting of the east and west, a long lasting dialogue between the past and the present.

Director Yongdrol Tsongkha, Ph.D., is Professor of Ethnology at Lanzhou University and Research Associate at Indiana University. Professor Tsongkha is an award-winning cultural conservationist and prolific scholar on Tibetan history, anthropology, and linguistics. Donnak Sonam Dorje is currently a doctoral student at Lanzhou University.