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A Year in Tibet

Genres: Documentary Series

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About the Show

A Year in Tibet is a British documentary television series produced by Seven Stones Media which follows a calendar year inside the secret confines of a Tibetan monastery and charts the lives of those living in Gyanste, the small town which surrounds it and surrounding villages.

The series premiered in the UK on BBC Four on Thursday 6 March, 2008. There are five 60-minute episodes in the series.

A Year in Tibet premiered in South Africa on SABC2 on Monday 16 June 2008, at 19h30. The channel will only air three of the five episodes.

Synopsis

A Year in Tibet follows a calendar year inside the secret confines of a Tibetan monastery and charts the lives of those living in Gyanste, the small town which surrounds it and surrounding villages.

Seven Stones Media gained unparalleled access to one of the most isolated and spiritual parts of the world and their cameras were the first ever allowed to follow members of the community, offering the Western audience a rare insight into their lives, religion, servitude and family.

This unprecedented access gives a remarkable insight into the significance of Buddhism in everyday life and the complex and often surprising relationship between Tibetans and the Chinese immigrants who they live and work alongside.

The series is both an intimate observation of a society and a compelling insight into the impact of the Chinese Communist Party on Tibetans' lives.

A Year in Tibet was commissioned for BBC Four by Richard Klein, and it is a co-production between Seven Stones Media and Mosaic Films.

The series is written and produced and directed in the cutting room by Peter Firstbrook, with Sun Shuyun as location director.

Episodes

Episode 1: The Visit

The Panchen Lama, the highest ranking Buddhist living in Tibet today, pays an unexpected visit to the local monastery and throws the monks into turmoil.

A local hotel owner is worried about the lack business. In the nearby village of Tangmai, a young farmers wife is rushed into hospital with complications with her pregnancy.

Episode 2: Three Husbands and a Wedding

It's autumn and everyone is pulling together to get in the harvest, as Dundan worries about hailstones flattening his crops.

The local government has installed guns to disperse the clouds and this has put the shaman Tseden, who used to protect the fields with spells, out of a job.

Tseden is also helping a local family to arrange their daughter's wedding.

Episode 3: Faith, Hope and Charity

The monks begin preparations for New Year, one of Tibet's biggest festivals. Lhakpa, a local rickshaw driver, struggles to earn money as winter approaches.

He embarks on a scheme to buy and sell puppies, with disastrous consequences.

Hotel owner Jianzang gets involved in a court case which has a surprising outcome. In Tangmai, the doctor cannot cure Lhamo's crippling stomach pains.

Episode 4: Monks Behaving Badly

In the Pel Kor monastery, the director Choephel discovers that some irreplaceable statues have been stolen and the theft gives the local Communist Party an excuse to put in a government 'work team' to weed out monks they think are behaving badly.

Lhakpa heads north in search of a lucrative job on a building site, and Butri gets an unpleasant surprise as she approaches her retirement.

Episode 5: A Tale of Three Monks

Deputy head lama Tsultrim has to juggle running the monastery whilst complying with a myriad of government restrictions.

Young monk Tsephun lives and works with his master Dondrup, a curmudgeonly old lama.

Tsephun helps his master with the day-to-day jobs of cleaning and tidying; in return, Dondrup teaches Tsephun the sutras and scriptures, an essential part of becoming a monk.

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