The Wheeler Opera House and Mountainfilm in Aspen will present an evening of short documentary films, The Stories of Nepal, on Friday, February 16 at 6:30 p.m. This screening of award-winning films inspired by the country and people of Nepal, includes winner of the Mountainfilm in Aspen Audience Favorite Awards (Short Film 2017) The Last Honey Hunter, as well as Rinpoche Speaks and Lunag Ri. Special guests include Ben Knight and Julia Van Raalte for a Q&A after their film The Last Honey Hunter. Tickets are $15 (Wheeler Wins! member pricing available) and are available now at the Wheeler Opera House Box Office (970.920.5770/ aspenshowtix.com). The Wheeler Opera House is located at 320 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, CO.
ABOUT THE FILMS:
Rinpoche Speaks (10 min.)Ngawang Tenzin Norbu, who was born in Nepal in 1935, is believed to be the first reincarnation of Lama Gulu, the Tengboche Rinpoche. Over the course of his lifetime, he has witnessed a seismic change in his homeland, which has gone from a remote and unvisited landscape to the bustling hub of a multi-million-dollar Everest expedition industry. In this short film, the Rinpoche speaks about the destruction of beyuls, sacred places high in the mountains, caused by the presence of too many people. The Himalaya, he says, are where gods dwell. “You think and say that climbing mountains is good…that you will gain something from it,” he says. “But climbing mountains is also a form of greed… If you stopped some of the climbing on Everest, it will mean more to those who do summit.”
Lunag Ri (19 min.)Although his Nepalese father trained as a trekking guide, Austrian sport climber David Lama never felt the pull of his paternal homeland. Fifteen years after his last childhood visit to Nepal, Lama embarks on a quest to summit the never-before-climbed, 22,661-foot Lunag Ri with an unlikely partner: American mountaineer Conrad Anker. Although the two have a 27-year age gap, the pairing turns out to be fortuitous as the duo push the limits of alpine climbing. After facing a difficult decision on summit day, Lama comes to appreciate his connection to his Nepalese family and realizes that maybe his genes shape his life as a climber after all.
The Last Honey Hunter (36 min.)In the mist-shrouded mountains of Nepal’s Hongu River valley, the Kulung people carve their lives out of the land and practice an ancient form of animism structured around the god Rongkemi. There you will find a wiry and unassuming man named Mauli Dhan Rai, who is believed to be chosen by the gods for the perilous rite of honey harvesting. The task, which involves climbing rope ladders up sheer cliffs to cut down combs made by the world’s largest honeybee (before collecting the poisonous honey within), is extraordinarily dangerous. But it’s a spiritual pursuit soaked in myth that the Kulung believe taps directly into the gods. And with roads, technology and market forces, it may not be around for long. This film, a 2016 Mountainfilm Commitment Grant winner directed by Ben Knight, puts a spotlight on a remarkable practice under threat of modernity.