With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

ACF 2017: Eco-documentary PAD YATRA: A GREEN ODYSSEY reviewed

Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey
Produced, Directed and Edited by Wendy J.N. Lee
Executive Producer Michelle Yeoh
Narrated by Daryl Hannah
India/Nepal/USA, 2013, 72 minutes
In English and Tibetan (English Subtitles)

Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey is a remarkable documentary film about a remarkable event, a roughly 450 mile eco-trek made in 2010 though parts of Sikkim, Nepal, and the Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh regions of India to raise consciousness about the effects of climate change on the Himalayas and to take positive actions to protect the environment. It opened this past Friday, November 15, 2013 at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.

Pad Yatra literally means spiritual foot journey in Sanskrit. In this case the journey combined spirituality and environmentalism to send a powerful message about the threats to the important Himalayan region by climate change. The area has the about 15,000 glaciers, a quantity exceeded only by the polar ice caps. It therefore is sometimes referred to as the "3rd pole" of the earth. It supplies fresh water for an estimated three billion people.

H.H. the Gyalwang Drukpa,

The walk was led by His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, the head of the1,000 year old Drukpa Lineage of Buddhism and the international award-winning founder of Live to Love International, which teaches and practices love not only to other people, but also environmental compassion.

Approximately 700 people participated in the adventure which traversed some of the most treacherous terrain on the planet. Beyond the given physical difficulties of walking -- not to mention filming -- at altitudes up to 17,000 foot, sometimes in sub-zero temperatures, the trek was made even more hazardous by rock slides and a freak snowstorm.

Given these conditions mention must be made of Ngawang Sodpa, a humble Buddhist monk from the Himalayas, who was the film's cinematographer. His achievement is nothing short of miraculous in that his only training was the studying of National Geographic programs and an unwavering commitment to capturing the Pad Yatra.

The film is a no less notable achievement for director Lee, who also produced and edited it. It is her debut feature film. Not many individuals would undertake such a subject with it's inherent difficulties and dangers -- nearly one third of the footage was damaged or destroyed as a result of the weather or physical trauma -- let alone produce such a powerful, compelling work.

Pad Yatra has won ten International Awards, including Best Documentary and Audience Award Winner at three different festivals, and has been shown at numerous other festivals and at special screenings. It is a film that truly deserves to be seen and contemplated. Beyond its theatrical, festival, and special screenings, this reviewer hopes that it will find a place on television, presumably on the Public Broadcasting Service, where it most certainly will find a sizeable audience.

I strongly recommend that readers pay at least one visit to the film's official website, which has considerable information about the film and the Pad Yatra itself.

ACF Rating: 4 out of 4 stars; highest recommendation.

Other reviews:
Los Angeles Times
Palm Springs International Film Society