Quite by chance I recently came across a blog post by an artist, Stephen King, who had visited the Langtang last autumn. He stayed for a while at Hotel Viewpoint, Gylamu’s lodge, and there is a photo on his web page, and a nice story about how they first met. Although we’ve been in touch with Gyalmu, sometimes through mutual acquaintances, we’ve not seen any images of the new house until now – very exciting. I love the paintings also, which are about to be on display at the Nepal Embassy in London – check his website for details. Part of the proceeds of the sale go to Community Action Nepal.
Interestingly he calls her Neema / Nima, Asmita (the Nepali co-director on the film) always used her other given name, Gyalmu, meaning Queen, and thus so did I, and the name of the film – somehow ‘Queen’ seemed right.
Two exciting new festival dates coming up. It’s always a thrill when somebody approaches you to show your film rather than the other way round, and particularly so when the festival has strong connections with events in Nepal – so the invitation from Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival in mid-Feb in Arizona was a treat, the community there has been involved in relief work in the region.
We also were selected for the Boulder International Film Festival, March 2 – 5th in Colorado. This is a general film festival rather than a mountain specific one, but it has a strong independent streak and judging by the films shown last year it has strong connections with wilderness and environmental themes – well it would do being Boulder, one of the icon mountain towns in the states. Very excited and hoping to visit.
When the film was shown at the recent film festivals in Banff and Kendal we were frequently asked by people whether the time was right to visit the Langtang region. Of course we absolutely cannot say that it is safe from earthquakes and landslides, the risk remains (as it does of course in many parts of the world) and from that perspective you have to make your own judgement.
However there is no doubt that the people need and want you to return, their livelihoods depend upon it. Given what they have suffered they are extremely warm and welcoming, you will not be visiting a place that appears shrouded in misery. The teahouses and lodges are being rebuilt extremely rapidly, and for some this has offered an opportunity to upgrade their facilities. I urge you to stop at as many teahouses (or building sites of teahouses to be) as you can during you walk and buy a cup of tea or a bowl of food, these small transactions are all really welcome.
The path has been remade and is easy to follow and use. It does cross some of the areas of devastation, and these can be emotionally tough, particularly the walk across the area that was Langtang village. There is now a memorial mani wall there which you might want to visit.
The main settlements are Lama Hotel which was relatively (relatively!) unaffected, a days walk from the road head at Syaphru Besi, and Kyanjin Gompa which is a very big days walk further on – too big for most so you might be wise to break this big second say into two shorter ones, and there are plenty of lodges en route, though not in villages as such. Kyanjin Gompa has a staggering view of the mountains, many guest houses of all standards and sizes. It also has a coffee shop that serve great coffee and cakes (though there was some talk of this closing). Kyanjin Gompa is effectively the valley head from where you can climb local peaks in a day, or set-out on expeditions to the passes and higher technical summits.
Gyalmu’s House will be playing at Pokhara Mountain Festival later this month. This is particularly exciting because, although only small and in its second year, the festival takes place among, and reaches out to the people we made the film about (not Langtang specifically, but the inhabitants of the mid reaches of the Nepal Himalayas). It is their film, and its really special to be able to bring it back to them. Sadly we won’t be able to be there, but we wish them the best of luck.
Both Gavin and Asmita made it to Kendal Mountain Festival, it was first time we’ve seen a public screening together – very exciting. We had an excellent couple of days and the film seemed to be very well received – which was wonderful for us, and more importantly for Langtang.
We were thrilled that although we didn’t win an award (the Mountain Culture honour when to the excellent and deserving Drawing the Tiger) we did get selected to go into the ‘Best of Kendal’ screenings – that was a real treat. Thank you!
Gyalmu’s House played in Banff last weekend and I had the pleasure of going to visit. Our film seemed to get a good reception, something that’s always hard to judge – but there definitely seemed to be a strong sense of support coming from the 800+ audience on the first screening, and from people I spoke with after.
I saw some excellent films, and I particularly want to mention Shepherdess of the Glaciers, the film that won the grand prize, it was simply outstanding: beautiful, moving, gentle, human. The story, a little like Gyalmu’s House, throws light on a strong charismatic woman, and a harsh life lived simply. A youtube trailer is here.