Tenzing Sonam

Tenzing Sonam was born in Darjeeling in northeastern India to Tibetan refugee parents. Following his graduation from Delhi University, he worked for a year in the Tibetan government-in-exile, based in the Himalayan town of Dharamsala in northern India. He then travelled for a number of years, spending time in Switzerland, New York, Scottsdale (Arizona) and Los Angeles before ending up in Berkeley where, in 1985, he completed his Masters degree in Journalism at the University of California’s Graduate School of Journalism, specializing in documentary filmmaking.

Ritu Sarin was born in New Delhi. She finished her schooling in London and then returned to India to continue her further studies at Delhi University. After getting her undergraduate degree, she worked in Brussels for three years as a marketing representative for the Tea Board of India. She then left her job to pursue her first passion — cinema. She did her graduate studies in film and video at the California College of the Arts, in Oakland, finishing in 1986.

While students in the Bay Area, Ritu and Tenzing worked on their first documentary: The New Puritans: The Sikhs of Yuba City. This marked the beginning of a professional and personal partnership that has endured for more than two decades. They were married in India in 1987. That year, they moved to London where they lived until 1996 and established their company, White Crane Films.

Their subsequent documentaries include: The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche, The Trials of Telo Rinpoche, A Stranger in My Native Land, and The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet.

In 1996, they returned to India with their two young children and settled in Dharamsala. It was during their stay here, living among the exiled Tibetan community, that the seeds for a feature film were planted. This film, Dreaming Lhasa, was completed in early 2005 and will be released later this year.

They currently live in New Delhi.

Showing all 5 results

  • film_16

    The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche

    This utterly fascinating and compelling film follows the search of Choenzey, a 47-year-old Tibetan monk who lives in exile in a Buddhist monastery in southern India, to find the reincarnation of his deceased master, Khensur Rinpoche. Choenzey’s search and eventual discovery is of an impish but gentle four-year-old who is recognized by the Dalai Lama to be the looked-for reincarnation.

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  • film_99

    The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet

    Featuring unique archival footage and exclusive interviews with former Tibetan resistance fighters and surviving CIA operatives, this powerful documentary reveals for the first time a hitherto unknown chapter in Tibet’s recent history.

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  • film_97

    A Stranger in My Native Land

    This profound, poetic, and ultimately immensely sad documentary may be the first of its kind about Tibet — a vivid personal account of loss and disappointment as an exile discovers his country for the first time.

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  • film_172

    The Thread of Karma

    In 1991, filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam made "The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche," which followed the search of a Tibetan monk, named Choenzey, to find the reincarnation of his recently deceased master, Khensur Rinpoche. Sixteen years later, the directors revisit the reincarnation at Drepung Monastery in South India, where he has been brought up within the age-old traditions of Tibetan Buddhist monastic life.

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  • film_98

    The Trials of Telo Rinpoche

    This absorbing documentary portrait tells the amazing story of Telo Rinpoche, a.k.a. Eddie Ombadykow, a 21-year-old American from Philadelphia whose favorite band is The Smashing Pumpkins. He is also a Buddhist monk who was brought up in a Tibetan monastery in India from the age of seven and who was recognized by the Dalai Lama as an important reincarnate lama, or spiritual master.

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