Series: Nomaden

Gold of the Himalayas


A film by Thomas Wartmann
© 2007 / 43 min (German+French) and 52 min (English) / Digi Beta / 16:9 / Stereo

The Changpa nomads live cut off from the rest of the world on a barren plateau at an altitude of 4000 metres in the south east of Ladakh in the Himalayas. This inhospitable region, where the livestock has to search far and wide in order to prise something to eat out of the miserly earth, hides a special treasure: the Changpa goats grow a very fine wool under their coats, but only at extremely high altitudes and in extremely cold winters. It is then brushed out in the early summer and sold in the capital city as the precious Pashmina, the “Gold of the Changthang”. These days the number of the once mighty Changpa nomads in the high valley is declining steadily each year. More and more young people are migrating to the city, attracted by a modern, more pleasant life. The old people who stay behind can hardly look after themselves. Survival strategies handed down over generations, such as polyandry, the custom of having more than one husband, are hardly practiced any more or are forbidden.

The film tells the story of 19 year old nomad son Norbu, who has kidnapped his bride, the young Tashi, from Leh, the capital city of Ladakh, to his extended family in the Changthang. Wife stealing is nothing unusual for the Changpa, but the custom does demand that an apology is made to the father of the bride.In two years Norbu is supposed to take over his father’s tent in the Changthang and learn the nomadic trade by then. But the boy, who grew up in the city, cannot reintegrate himself into the gruelling daily life of the mountain nomads. The lonely landscape, the rough climate, the hard work, life in a tent — it’s all too much for him and his bride. By the time he sets off with his father to the capital city, Leh, to apologise to his father in law, his decision has been made: he will turn his back on the nomadic life and become a truck driver down in the valley. There's nothing else his father can do now except ask the gods for help…

Awards and Festivals:
- Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival 2008 — Best Film on
__Mountain Culture
- -Festival International du Film d’Autrans 2007 — Prix du Film Vie des Hommes
__“Terres d’Aventure”
- Film Festival della Lessinia 2007 — Honorable Mention of the Jury



Written and directed by Thomas Wartmann
Consultant: Monisha Ahmed
Cinematography: Alexander Hein
Sound: Markus Breimaier
Editing: Verena Schönauer
Sound mix: Hans R. Weiss
Music: Ludwig Eckmann, Winfried Zrenner
Production manager: Markus Breimaier
Production assistant: Anna Brass
Location manager: Wangchuk Fargo
Producer: Thomas Wartmann
Commissioning editors: Ulrike Becker, SWR, and Gabriele Conze, WDR

A coproduction of Filmquadrat, Südwestrundfunk and Westdeutscher Rundfunk
in collaboration with ARTE.


to films