Shangri-La, Paradise Under Construction

Does Shangri-La really exist? This essayistic travelogue takes us to the mountains of Tibetan China in a quest to unravel the history of the famous (imaginary?) paradise.

Please note that this film is in Dutch, English and Tibetan, with Dutch subtitles.
Time & Tickets

At first sight, the answer to the question about Shangri-La’s existence seems obvious: British author James Hilton invented Shangri-La for his 1933 novel LOST HORIZON, in which four characters crash land in the Kunlun Mountains and later find a magnificent monastery – a paradise on earth. It’s pure fiction, and Hilton never even set foot in China or Tibet. Nonetheless, this Tibetan region in China now claims to have rediscovered this utopian haven: in 2001, China’s Zhongdian County was renamed Shangri-La, and a brand-new ‘historical’ center was built for tourists to visit. Duijn discovers that the people living in Shangri-La firmly believe Hilton was writing about their city, explaining that an airplane really did crash in the area. Her curiosity aroused, the filmmaker picks apart the many strands to this surprisingly rich and complex story. (source:

Mirka Duijn & Nina Spiering, Netherlands, Sweden, 2022, 94 min. Dutch, English & Tibetan spoken, Dutch subtitles.