Journey From Zanskar

By Norman Wilner, Now Toronto, June 16, 2010

Toronto, Canada -- Shot in 2003, Journey From Zanskar follows a pair of Buddhist monks who are attempting to bring a dozen or so children from a remote Kashmiri village to a Tibetan school in distant Manali, where they will receive a desperately needed education.

The children will be separated from their parents for a decade or more; the inhabitants of Zanskar are too poor to afford the trip in, and the kids won’t be able to afford a visit home. But schooling will prepare them for a life beyond their dying village, the only way to guarantee their parents’ future.

This is seat-of-the-pants filmmaking, with limited resources and marginal production values, and the result feels more than a little ragged, even with Richard Gere’s polished voice-over narration.

But director Frederick Marx, one of the producers of Hoop Dreams, knows he’s got a compelling story, and he follows it all the way through. Sometimes that’s enough.