Living at the foot of Mount Everest two brothers have very different ties to the mountains: one, a porter to the tourist’s base camp, dreams of becoming assistant-cook; the other, a Buddhist monk, sets off on a pilgrimage to a sacred lake to pray for his brothers journey.
The Khumbu Valley, which unfolds the vast beauty of its landscapes in the foothills of the Himalayas, is a place of contrasts. Here, the various players in the high-altitude business: underpaid porters, rich Sherpas who run local agencies, or mountaineering tourists willing to pay $120,000 for a selfie on the roof of the world coexist with the locals who pay their respects to the mountains, inspired by the traditions of their ancestors.
The film follows the parallel journeys of porter Sang Bhadu Tamang on an expedition to Everest base camp, and his monk brother Lhakpa Tamang on a journey to honour the deity associated with a high-altitude lake two days' walk from his monastery. The brothers' worlds could not be more different. In one, the mountain is seen as an object of conquest, fuelled by a mysticism of self-conquest. In the other, the mountain is respected as a sacred place and man is not seen as separate from his environment.
Yet the two worlds are inextricably linked. Out of solidarity, the rich Sherpas donate part of their income to the monasteries in their home villages. The monks receive the highly welcome offerings to perform ceremonies before the Sherpas leave for their expeditions.
written and directed by
A coproduction between DokLab and Instant Film
Development funded by Swiss Federal Office of Culture, Canton of Vaud, Cinéforom and SRF (Succès Passage Antenne)