Tenzin Tsetan Choklay is a Tibetan filmmaker currently working out of Brooklyn, New York City. Tenzin graduated from the prestigious Korean Academy of Film Arts in 2008. Tenzin has made a number of short films in South Korea and has worked as an Associate Producer at White Crane Films In India for the award winning film, The Sun Behind the Clouds by directors Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam.
The filmmaker and the artist were classmates at the Tibetan refugee school in India when they were toddlers. After more than two decades of separation, they finally met again in 2009 when the filmmaker moved to New York City.
“Like artist Tenzing Rigdol, I am also a second-generation Tibetan refugee born and raised in India. I first met Tenzing many years ago as primary school students at a Tibetan refugee school in North India. We were merely 7 years old and both of our parents were refugees who escaped from occupied Tibet in 1959. A couple of years later, Tenzing moved to another school in Nepal and I never saw him for more than two decades.
In 2009 I moved to the United States after graduating from film school and as fate would have it, I met Tenzing again here in New York City. By now, Tenzing had become a well-known Tibetan contemporary artist but at the time, Tenzing was recovering from the death of his father who passed away due to an illness.
A year later, Tenzing told me about his plan to do this unique art project (the soil project) that was inspired by the last days that he spent with his father. The moment I heard about it, I had no doubt, this project would allow him not only to fulfill his father’s dream but at the same time be able to touch the hearts of all the Tibetan refugees living all over the world and set a new landmark in the Tibetan art movement. I also equally saw a great opportunity to follow and to be able to tell a story, which would be an important documentation in the history of groundbreaking art and of the Tibetan exile experience.
Thus I decided to make a film that tells the story of Tenzing’s struggle to make this project a reality and how this artwork effects the people who view it and how art can make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged people.”
– Tenzin Tsetan Choklay