An arduous trek by Tibetans across the Himalayas is the subject of a documentary showing Sunday at Cornerstone Arts Center on the Colorado College campus.
“Journey From Zanskar” chronicles the difficulties faced by five Tibetan Buddhist monks, 17 children and others traveling from a remote mountain village to Manali, India, where the children will be schooled in reading, writing and Buddhist culture.
Along the way, it becomes questionable whether the group will survive the journey.
“We were totally isolated in harsh territory,” said principal cameraman Nick Sherman, who grew up in Colorado Springs. “There were times we wondered if we’d make it.”
The Colorado Springs showing is part of a fundraising tour for the film that included runs in California and Philadelphia. The film’s official premier is Feb. 11 at the Boulder International Film Festival.
Frederick Marx, best known for his Academy Award-nominated film “Hoop Dreams,” will be at the screening to answer questions about the documentary, which he wrote and directed.
Marx, a practicing Buddhist for 20 years, said the project was deeply meaningful for him.
“These people live extremely precarious lives, yet they take their hardships very lightly,” Marx said. “Their sunny disposition is amazing.”
Zanskar sits at 12,000 feet in the Himalayas between Tibet and Pakistan. It is almost completely isolated from modern culture, and its few schools are too expensive for most Tibetans, who eke out a living as farmers.
Parents and Tibetan monks select Zanskar children to be schooled for free in Manali, hundreds of miles southeast in the Himalayan foothills.
The children, ages 4 to 12, will be separated from their parents for five years, and there is a gripping scene in which tearful parents say goodbye.
The journey is fraught with difficulties. After three days and 90 miles of travel, the party is forced back to Zanskar when deep snow prevents it from crossing Shinku Pass. The trek begins again in an unheated bus that must travel for days on officially closed Himalayan roads. Altitude sickness, snow blindness, avalanches, bus breakdowns and freezing temperatures are some of the challenges endured.
Marx hopes to include “Journey From Zanskar” in other film festivals and eventually find a distributor.
He said that once financial debts incurred by the film are paid, 85 percent of box office profits will go toward funding Indian schools and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.
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What: screening of the documentary “Journey From Zanskar,” followed by a Q&A with writer and director Frederick Marx
Where: Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., on the Colorado College campus
When: 4 p.m. Sunday
Cost: asking for $10-50 donation per person
More information: call the Worner desk at 389-6607