Upcoming Shows

We've been named as a official selection in the Southern Circuit of Filmmakers Tour, March 17-24.

Shows are in Hapeville, GA 3/17, Madison, GA 3/20, Orangeburg, SC 3/22, Gainsville, GA 3/23, and Manteo, NC 3/24.
Learn more by going to the SouthArts blog.

View the theatrical trailer for A Gift for the Village

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From Jane, July 6th

Hello Friends, We are NOT in Jomsom, but instead still in Pokhara.

The skies this morning were heavy with low clouds, and although we were at the little airport by 5:30 a.m., we had to wait until about 11 a.m. to hear that the first four flights to Jomsom were all totally canceled but that Agni Air WAS going to try the fifth and final flight of the day. So our team of seven and a sprinkling of locals (sixteen, counting crew) boarded the tiny twin-engine, with some trepidation and some hope.

And although we came face to face with the mighty Goddess Annapurna (over 26,000 feet, her stone face), and although we circled and circled among the thick clouds, our landing was not to be. Jenna gave thumbs up to the pilots in their open cockpit when they announced there was no entering Jomsom today. We appreciated the attempt AND our crew's reluctance. Flying into Jomsom--as our documentary shows--is not cake. You have to commit to a ravine, descend along the river, arc hard in a bowl, and stop before the runway turns into a mountain face. Today, the ravine was a cauldron of cloud, and, as Nepali pilots like to say, our clouds have rocks in them.

So we came close.

Fortunately we are already booked for attempting the second flight tomorrow morning (Usually if you miss a flight, you are pushed to lowly stand-by position, stressful for us since we are a group of seven, and don't want to split up). But the Agni representatives were excellent, and stored three of our heaviest bags at the airport, making tomorrow morning's attempt a little less burdensome.

Still, our position is not easy. Each day we can't fly, the roads--sorry, the "roads"--to Jomsom are more waterlogged and possibly blocked by mudslide or rock-avalanche. Each night in Pokhara is another $30 per person for an air-conditioned room--an expense we weren't counting on, ideally. A jeep is devilishly expensive, as quoted here in Pokhara, and so we have our friend Mingma in Kathmandu trying to get us a better deal on a good jeep. May I add that having a shop owner connect a phone here to our friend Mingma in Kathmandu is itself a trip.

If we DO opt to be driven, we will do so ONLY in a good jeep, not on public transport. Jenna and I have seen the roads, and a public "bus" on those "roads" is outside my definition of reasonable. We have considered a heliocopter, but we doubt we can afford the option.

Anyway, we spent a decompression lunch upstairs at a familiar restaurant and navigated everyone's response to the mild trauma of circling but not being able to land in Jomsom.

Most disappointed was Mary, partly because her ears ached a little fom the flight and partly because she so much wanted to land in our next place and get that much closer to snow leopards.

Mingma informed us, upon my asking the dire question of whether any of our Upper Mustang fees would be refundable, if we can not get to Kagbeni at the appointed time to start the trek to Lo, that no, unfortunately, our contract is signed and the fees are paid for the special permissions given by various government ministers for us to enter the Forbidden Kingdom. Those are big bucks to have flutter out of our grasp. And big hopes to lose from our grasp.

So wish us well, getting to Mustang. My young cousin Cy is there (he took the local bus, but, for the life of me, I can't feel great about that choice for my team), who informed Emerson last night by crackly phone that there may not be a working projector in Jomsom, and therefore we may not be able to show the documentary where the festival was held, which is a shame. But in the walled fortress-city of Lo, there IS a generator, a projector, and a King expecting us and the documentary.

All we have to do to show A Gift for the Village there is, first, to solve the puzzle of how to outwit the monsoon sky and its wrath upon the roads, and, second, to walk 155 miles. As our friends here often say: Is problem? No problem.

But outside the ring of obstacles I have described, what an amazing event in Pokhara yesterday! I met a young man, Udhav Shrestha, 23, and his handsome father, Krishna. There was something about Udhav. I wish I knew how to recollect exactly what made me sense that he was an artist. All he did is name some prices on t-shirts. But there was something...

I can honestly say that until I SAW Udhav I had not had the idea, but something in his expression...

I said, "I have a project I want to suggest. It may be impossible, and you can simply say no. I can not imagine you wlll say yes, but there is something in your face, something in your smile, which causes me to ask."

So I showed him a photograph of the Amchi Painting.

I told him about our project, our documentary, about Tsampa Ngawang and my long support of Tibet, and I read him the Dalai Lama's letter endorsing A Gift for the Village. Udhav listened.

I said, "I wonder if you could, with silk thread, reproduce this Amchi painting--in silk--on a black t-shirt. I know it is complicated. It is possibly impossible."

Udhav smiled and shook his head, as if in disbelief, and then introduced me to his father, who had been listening, and who said, "I think you are very lucky. If you had asked any other person in all of Pokhara, not one other person would even try. I don't tell you this as a selling point. But to do what you ask requires more than tailoring skills. As it happens, yes. We are father and son, and yes, we can do this work. We are the only two within sight of Phewa Lake who can sew like artists. How did you know to ask?"

Hopefully, Tom Landon can link our site to Krishna and Udhav's business, Shrestha Embroidery Shop, where you can see the kind of artistry these men have, although I can not imagine that ANY custom design on their site can compare to the Amchi shirt I am currently wearing. Their site is: www.embroiderynepal.weebly.com. As soon as we can, we will send a jpeg of the Amchi shirt, so you can see for yourselves.

Unbelievable. Quite a feeling, to have your large Tibetan lineage painting sewn into a silken t-shirt design, before your eyes, with son and father bent over the hoop, and the son reminding the father how to shape the grimace of the snow lions' faces, and the father working all the necessary colors into the peacock feathers (each, smaller than a cumin seed).

I think we will take a walk today. Just to stretch our legs and work out the kinks from the disappointment of not being able to land in Jomsom. Not yet.

Love to all of our family and friends, Jane

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