Tibet Film Archive


Tenzin Phuntsog studied film preservation at Cineteca Di Bologna in 2009 through the support of a Film Foundation Fellowship. In 2010, he founded the Tibet Film Archive in New York, driven by the core belief that these films demanded our attention and care. Tibet Film Archive considers these films vital to the Tibetan people’s historical narrative. Under this lens, over 100 hours of rare and fragile materials have been restored, stored in a temperature-controlled vault, and preserved for future generations.

Many of the titles in the collection are black & white documentaries and travelogues shot on 16mm film. These titles represent early film footage of Tibet pre-Chinese occupation and Tibetans during the early exile years. Our titles date back as early as 1920 through 1991. Newsreel footage is found intercut in a few titles, such as Tibetan Story and Home away from Home. 36 reels from the first missions to Tibet. The Tibetan Envoy Missions, 1978, 1979, were filmed on Kodachrome 8mm and digitized.

Under trained eye, each frame is physically cleaned and repaired. Then, celluloid is prepared for a liquid-gate scan (for maximum detail and eliminating scratches and other minor defects in the emulsion). The image is then stabilized, exposure compensated, and optically duplicated to a new film reel, creating a new preservation master.

In 2016, in collaboration with The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, Cineric, and the Cowell family, the 1966 film “Raid into Tibet” was reintroduced at Il Cinema Ritrovato Film Festival in Bologna, Italy. Chris Menges supervised the color grade at Technicolor London. A preservation copy of the fully restored film is housed at the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences in Los Angeles and available on loan as a DCP.

Tibet Film Archive’s entire collection became accessible on the Eye Filmmuseum collection’s digital platform in 2021 ensuring a digital preservation access point remains open to all. The collection has traveled and screened internationally most notably: Il Cinema Ritrovato Italy, Svenska Filminstitutet Sweden, National Gallery Singapore, The Museum of Modern Art New York, The Metograph, The Wexner Center, Caixa Cultural Rio De Janeiro, and The Rubin Museum of Art.


The Tibet Film Archive’s entire collection of films, spanning over 100 hours is now accessible via the Eye Filmmuseum Archive and Collections digital platform. Please contact the Eye Study 💛