Movie - Journey from Zanskar

Friday 19 November 2010

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All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Journey from Zanskar tells the story of two monks, seventeen children and some of their parents who undertake a journey in order to give the children better schooling and to pass on the tibetan (buddhist) culture at the same time.

Zanskar is situated in the epicentre of the Asian geopolitical and religious instability. Historically, Zanskar was a part of Tibet, but today it is considered to be Indian territory. The countries that surround Zanskar, Pakistan and China, have been attempting to (re)conquer Zanskar to this day. Because Zanskar belongs to India, the Zanskar people only get taught Urdu, Hindi and English. They don’t learn their own language, nor do they learn about their own history or culture. To change that, the Dalai Lama asks Geshe Yonten, a monk who was born in Zanskar himself, to try to take the brightest children of the region to schools and monasteries situated in Ladakh. There only way to get from Zanskar to Ladakh is to take a frozen road and to march in deep snow for over 150 kilometres. The journey could take from 7 up to 20 days, depending on the circumstances.

Journey from Zanskar is more of a documentary than a movie. There are no actors, nothing is put in scene, everything we get to see is real. Frédérick Marx, who was nominated for an Oscar (’Hoop Dreams’) and an Emmy (’Higher Goals’), directed the movie. He said making the movie and taking the journey with the people from Zanskar inspired and enriched him as a person. He also admired the strength of character they showed. It are those feelings he tries to get across to the audience. He focuses on the emotions of the children, their parents and the monks and on the interaction between them while they are on a journey tha will change their life. That difficult journey is full of action and excitement. Add to that the beautiful pictures of Zanskarian landscapes and the narrative skill of Richard Gere, and you get a documentary that is worth watching.

Journey from Zanskar was nominated for a number of documentary festivals such as the Documentary Edge Festival in New Zealand and the Boulder Film Festival in the United States.

- Rogier Verschueren for Buddhachannel

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