Ethnic Storytellinf  

image: Jail & Village Council
This would be one of my very favorite movies but the story is too simplistic. That simplicity hardly detracts from the amazing photographic backgrounds, the enchanging polyphonic singing, and and the glimpses of traditional Tibetan culture.
In “Himalaya” we see the transition of power from one village chief to another. It is not easy. It is not violent. In a way it is as beautiful as the rest of the film.
A conceivable choice for the next chief was the current chief's second son who had been raised in a monestary. Everybody knew this choice wouldn't work—except the old chief himself.
There are two professional actors in this film, both Nepalese. Everybody else you see is a native from the Dopol region of Nepal. (It is easy to recognize the professionals. They are the ones in the film's only sex scene.) The filming was in or near a remote Dolpo village in Nepal—as close to the real Tibet as we Westerners can get. In fact it is not clear that access to the Chinese province of Tibet would get us any closer because the Chinese government is doing its best to make Tibetans into Chinese.
This almost doesn't qualify as an ethnic film. Production staff, direction, and screen writers are French. But the main director/screenwriter, Eric Valli, had lived over a decade in Nepal before making the film and had made friends with a Dolpo village chief, who plays himself in the film.
If you can get this film on DVD (perhaps from you local library) then do that so you can see the extra disc on how the film was made. You will learm almost as much about Tibetan culture from this disc as from the film itself.
J Adrian Zimmer
Watch and Talk  (more reviews)        Himalaya  (streaming sources)