About the Project:
As British filmmakers we, Marcus Stephenson and Zara Balfour, have experienced the
tremendous warmth of the Nepali people. For the past five years we have been visiting Nepal to support a very worthwhile education charity with which we have a connection, and working on this epic documentary film project.
The charity is the Snowland School in Kathmandu – a humble residential charity school run by a
charismatic Buddhist monk known as the Dolpo Buddha, which gives a free education to both
bright and disadvantaged children from impoverished villages of the high Himalayas of
The Dolpo Buddha comes from Dolpo, which is the same region as the majority of the children at
the school. Interestingly, Dolpo is also the region where many of the Gurkhas come from.
In the past few years the charity Future Village Foundation have been funding a once in a lifetime journey home for the teenage graduates of the school in which they trek to their birthplaces in the high Himalayas to make peace with the families who ‘gave them up’ to give them a better life.
'Children of the Snow Land' documents their incredible, awe-inspiring stories.
The film gives unique access into a story and part of the world that hasn't yet been documented on film.
The film has an anthropological interest, giving the viewer the experience of being transported to somewhere hardly anyone has visited, exploring ways of life that have remained unchanged for the past 2,000 years.
The mountain villages of the North-West Himalaya are the most remote, highest inhabited place on the planet and they serve as one of the last bastions of the pre-modern era. As progress in our world inevitably marches on, this film will serve as a unique time capsule view into the ancient ways of life.
The film also explores the universal question of what creates a family and looks at the human spirit and its extraordinary capacity to survive and thrive in difficult circumstances and with meagre resources.
Whilst we were in the middle of making the film, Nepal was struck by a huge earthquake. Naturally, this affected everyone in our film and so we have included the earthquake and the effect it has had on the children telling our story.
A large part of the film is brilliantly filmed by these Nepali children themselves, whom we taught film-making. This gives our film a very authentic, fresh voice and a real insight into Nepali culture.
By bringing the story of Nepali mountain communities to life, the film makes a contribution to society by raising awareness, at a time when Nepal needs help to rebuild itself and recover from the earthquake and resulting fuel crisis that crippled the country’s tourist industry and medical and earthquake relief efforts.
We hope our film will help on a practical level to drive finance to improve Nepal’s schooling situation and to help more mountain children to retain a relationship with their parents throughout their school careers, as well as increasing empathy for Nepal at this difficult time.
CHILDREN OF THE SNOW LAND © Mayfly TV & Picture on the Wall 2017