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Bön: Mustang to Menri cover photo

Bön: Mustang to Menri 2011


Distributed by Documentary Educational Resources, 101 Morse Street, Watertown, MA 02472; 617-926-0491
Produced by Andrea Heckman and Rose Gordon
Directed by Tad Fettig
DVD, color, 88 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
Religious Studies, Asian Studies, Tibet, Nepal, India

Date Entered: 07/09/2013

Reviewed by Barbara J. Walter, Longmont Public Library, Longmont, CO

Filmed on location in Nepal and India, Bön: Mustang to Menri is a beautifully crafted, thoroughly engaging introduction to the oldest spiritual tradition of Tibet.

Much of the film centers on the journeys of the monk Asonam, who as a young boy made the arduous trek from Mustang—part of modern-day Nepal—to Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India in order to train as a Geshe in the Bön tradition. Now, having completed years of studies in Bön, languages, philosophy and debate, Asonam is determined to give back, to help preserve Bönpo beliefs and culture by returning to his home and building a school, cultural center, and temple.

Along the way, viewers become familiar with the origins and distinctives of Bön, the critical role of the monastery in preserving the religion and educating its future leaders, and the rigorous training of its Geshes—comparable to earning a PhD. Asonam, His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima Rinpoche, 33rd Abbot of Menri, and Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, “teacher of teachers” in the Bön tradition, explain how the Bönpo way of life nearly disappeared with the Communist Chinese occupation of Tibet in the 1950s, how the spiritual home of Tibetan Bön came to be located in India, and how the breathless pace of modernization in Tibet today threatens its most ancient beliefs and culture.

It is difficult at times to catch all that Asonam is saying, especially when he speaks softly and rapidly in English; perhaps the subtitling could be expanded to include those portions of the film. Nevertheless, this is an excellent choice for academic collections supporting religious and Asian studies programs. Bön: Mustang to Menri is equally appropriate for public libraries whose members enjoy life-affirming stories of adversities faced and overcome.


  • Silver Palm Award, Mexico International Film Festival, 2012
  • Edmund Hillary Award, Mountain Film Festival, 2012