The Wall Of Shadows
Monika Braid, Erik Winker, Umit Uludag, Kaspar Winkler, Martin Roelly, Sabine Girsberger
Country / Nationality
Poland, Germany, Switzerland
Our Judges say:
An honest account of the conflicts, realities and sacrifices involved with high altitude expedition climbing and the difficult cultural decisions that it forces.
A mind blowing film: a long, slow portrait of Nepalese people's culture, and the ethical challenges around climbing, Kumbakharna, a sacred and dangerous mountain.
Paul Hodgson Music Judge
A original treatment of the mountain narrative. You will be completely immersed.
Claire Carter Writer, Film Officer for Kendal Mountain Festival, 'Creative Consultant'.
In faraway Eastern Nepal, there is a holy mountain Kumbhakarna (aka Jannu). Its peak is home to gods and demons. No man can touch its slopes and it is believed that a Sherpa who dares set foot on the mountain, will die. It is also a Himalayan peak (7710m) famous for its 3000m unclimbed east face, the most difficult climb in modern alpinism and the top trophy. The Westerners’ and local people’s attitude to the mountain is a world apart. At the foot of Kumbhakarna at 4000 m lays a small Sherpa village Kambachen. There are just 30 houses and in one of them lives Ngada Sherpa and his family. Ngada is born and bred in the mountains. He is the best high-altitude porter in the area: he carries equipment and sets the ropes for alpinists up to the summits, very often risking his life with little in return. He has climbed nine times Everest, two times Kanchenjunga. His wife, Jomdoe Sherpa works as a common porter, carrying heavy loads on steep icy tracks to base camps. They have a son – 16-year-old Dawa. The life in the Himalayas at this altitude is a struggle for survival. Despite the fact that for a decade Ngada has worked with international expeditions, his family lives on the edge of poverty. When the father works in the mountains, his wife and son, who just completed his primary school, work in the fields planting and harvesting potatoes. Dawa dreams of becoming a doctor, but his family cannot afford his further education. One day Ngada is offered work on an expedition to the forbidden Kumbhakarna. Taking part is opposing his faith and lamas’ warnings. The stakes are high. If Ngada agrees, he will earn big money, much more than on other expeditions, and pay for first two years of Dawa's medical school in Kathmandu. In February 2019 the expedition of the world-class alpinists starts on Jannu with the aim to conquer the unclimbed wall of the mountain. There are Marcin Tomaszewski, one of the most prominent Polish climbers and two eminent Russian climbers, Dmitry Golovchenko and Sergey Nilov, the double recipients of ‘the climbing Oscar’: Piolet d’Or. The Sherpa family accompanies the expedition. The helicopter lands in the village and the climbers are greeted by Ngada and Dawa, while Jomdoe is praying to Dalai Lama in their hut. The massive snow fall will not leave the expedition to the end and it is only the beginning of mounting up troubles. Will Gods of Kumbhakarna forgive the people for their insolence. Telling a story from the Sherpas’ perspective, we will present the meeting of two worlds and the clash of values.