Documentary Films


A film by Solveig Klaßen

A production by LICHTBLICK FILM
in Kollaboration with Filmboard Berlin Brandenburg, 
Kuratorium Junger Deutscher Film

Release: Edition Salzgeber / Delicatessen

88 Minutes / Dolby SR / Color / 35mm

OUT OF TIBET tells the unusual love story between punk musician SANTRRA OXYD and the Tibetan lama and exiled NGAWANG GELEK which leads us from India to Lake Constance and from Berlin to the roof of the world.

Sandra, born in 1962, grew up in a small Swabian town. When she is 14 years old, she absconds from her middle-class family (who are shattered but keep this hidden from the outside world), becomes a heroin-addict and ends up in Berlin in the Mid-1980s. Here, she establishes herself as an accordion-playing punk icon in Berlin’s sub-culture. With the help of music and Buddhism she succeeds in fighting her drug addiction. She travels to India as a ZEN-nun and meets the Tibetan lama Gelek who lives in exile as a mendicant.

Ngawang Gelek has been traced as the sixth reincarnation of a lama in a nomad family. In the Bangsar monastery, he grows up as a monk under Chinese command and becomes politically active. A demonstration by Tibetan monks leads to his arrest by the Chinese military but after three years of prison, torture, amnesty and further arrest, he escapes to India in 1989 to live there as an anchorite monk.

Was it love at first sight when he meets Sandra in front of his hut, or, as Gelek believes, the karma from her previous life? In order to marry Sandra and go to Europe, Gelek gives back his monk vows. For his future reincarnations this is a real burden.

Today, Gelek and Sandra live with their now three-year old daughter TARA in a small penthouse in the centre of Berlin. Sandra struggles along with old and new songs on the alternative music-scene; Gelek prays for several hours every day in the pedestrian zone and there he meets his pupils: Buddhists, mystics, alcoholics and punks.

A visit to Sandra's parents at Lake Constance makes the gap between the cultures and generations clear. The down-to-earth Swabians have tried for many years to repair the rift with their daughter so that they can finally make friends with a mendicant as a son-in-law.

Gelek has not seen his own family in Tibet for twelve years because his visa is refused for political reasons. To get to know Gelek's family, Sandra travels with Tara to Tibet. They reach the remote high valley where the nomads have pitched their summer camp.

Gelek's family gather around the monitor of a smuggled DV-camera and Sandra shows them the message from Gelek. Emotionally, his old father sits down in front of the camera and talks to his lost son who is eight thousand kilometres away.

The gap between two worlds which could not be more different is bridged here by film in a straightforward way. In the relationship between Sandra and Gelek these worlds collide day after day, but the lovers each seem to find themselves in the foreign part of the other one.

Writer / Director : Solveig Klaßen
Producer: Carl-Ludwig Rettinger
Commissioning Editor: ZDF/arte - Susanne Mertens
DoP: Lutz Reitemeier
Sound by: Andreas Köppen, Ulla Kösterke
Editor: Andreas Zitzmann
Songs by: Santrra Oxyd
Music by: Hannes Perkunder

Bayerischer Dokumentarfilmpreis „Der junge Löwe“
Nominierung Joris Ivens
Award, IDFA Amsterdam