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"Palden Gyatso's testimony is one of the most extraordinary stories of suffering and endurance".

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama
"The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk" Foreword

“They seemed an unlikely pair — the Tibetan Buddhist monk who had spent 33 years in Chinese prisons and labor camps and the aspiring Japanese filmmaker.”
-New York Times

“Gyatso’s unwavering faith in the face of horrific circumstances would make for essential viewing."
-New York Magazine

"If you think you're lost, you're lost. If you think you're a winner, you're a winner."…said Palden Gyatso, as he was trying to explain to us the secret to his inner strength.
-Rachelle J. Hruska, Guest of a Guest

“Powerful Doc”
-Time Out Magazine

“A harrowing and inspiring film.”
-Hollywood Reporter

"Makoto Sasa did a phenomenal job with this film. It is intimate in it’s sadness, yet empowering to hear and see Palden Gyatso tell his story. It is a grim and gruesome story at times, but one that had to be told."
-Pecious Metal blog, DVD Review, by Nate DeMontigny

"Fascinating and frightening documentary.”

"Gyatso is engaging, charming, and riveting his story horrifying."

“Taking Reverend Al’s mantra of ‘No Justice, No Peace’ to another level!”

“Be warned: The opening ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics might look a little different if you see Makoto Sasa's disturbing documentary beforehand. “
-Daily News

“Well-crafted docu...Makoto Sasa contrasts the horror of the story and the serenity of its teller for dramatic impact”


behind3Director's Note:

I am a Tokyo born woman who has been trying to apply Buddhist philosophy to the challenges of hectic everyday life in New York City.

One day, I heard an
incredible story about a Tibetan Buddhist monk who was a political prisoner for 33 years, but finally escaped.
It put the concerns of my small life in the big city into a completely different perspective.

A decade later, I was in Dharamsala with my film crew, and I started filming Palden Gyatso.

Palden is now 77 years old and lives alone. His kindness and gentle manner are not some Tantric magic, but spring from simple, daily Buddhist practice cultivated over a lifetime. In our conversations, he was very humble regarding his own story, seeming almost removed from the events at times. However, reminiscences about friends starved or tortured to death, driven to suicide or still in prison, caused him to break down into heart-rending sobs: this is a legacy of pain beyond pain.

Today, open international support of Tibet is declining in the face of a gold rush into the ascendant Chinese economy. World leaders do not feel they can "afford" to challenge Beijing on the basis of human rights, for fear of incurring economic retaliation.

However, Palden Gyatso's life story transcends notions of religion or political movements, and speaks to our entire earthbound condition. He accommodated suffering, but did not capitulate to it; this is not only his triumph, it is a story that needs re-telling in every generation. The pain and war of our own times and minds make this all the more evident.

I passionately believe that this film will bring some small measure of hope to those touched by it.

-Makoto Sasa   Producer/Director of Fire Under the Snow



Home Use DVD


SPECIAL SALE PRICE: $24.99 $20.00


System: 75min/NTSC All Region/4:3/Stereo
Language: Tibetan, English, Italian
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish,
Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Simplified, Traditional)

Special DVD Features:
1. Making of Fire Under the Snow (42min.)
- Director’s Commentary
- Meeting Palden Gyatso
- Trip to India, Italy and Tibet
- Audience with H.H, the Dalai Lama
- Tribeca Film Festival Premier (Q and A with Palden Gyatso)
and more!!

The Home DVD is offered in either NTSC or PAL formats. When purchasing, please select the format based on where you live:

  • NTSC (North America, Mexico, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, Korea, and parts of South America)
  • PAL (everywhere else in the world)