At an altitude of almost 4,000 metres in an arid setting comprised of rocky spurs and bare mountain walls, the village of Sking is one of the most isolated villages in the Himalayan Zanskar region. Here, the inhabitants depend entirely upon working the land in order to survive. With the onset of winter, they need to harvest and store all their basic necessities for the year. Here the summer is short and the winter seemingly never-ending. The harvest is chiefly handled by the women, young and old alike, working relentlessly from dawn to dusk with the fast-arriving winter setting a deadline which must not be missed. Marianne Chaud, shares these women’s daily lives, dreams and fears for many months. We share their daily lives in an intimate way, accompanying one of them as she waits for her husband to return, sharing the boredom and solitude of another, playing games with the youngest and awaiting the onset of death with the oldest. Shot from the director-ethnologist’s point of view, the film shows us a sensitive and poetic journey into the life and world of four generations of women.
French ethnologist Marianne Chaud was born in 1976. She graduated from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris with a doctoral thesis on the relationship between humans and the Himalayan region of Ladakh-Zanskar, in the north of India. In the ten years that followed, she returned to these areas on a regular basis and was welcomed by Zanskari families; she learned their language, habits and customs and took part in their daily lives, both in the fields and at home, creating a strong bond with the local population. In 2005, she sent a proposal to French production house ZED for a documentary on two young Zanskari women, which went on to become the film Devenir une femme au Zanskar. In 2006, she returned to Zanskar to make another film, this time on her own. The result, Himalaya, terre des femmes, portrays the daily lives of four generations of women and it won the Italian Alpine Club’s Gold Gentian at the 57th TrentoFilmfestival. Marianne then embarked upon another solo project in which she used a tiny camera to film the life of Kenrap, an 8-year-old Buddhist monk. The result was the documentary Himalaya, le chemin du ciel, which was released in France in 2009; it won the Città di Trento Gold Gentian for Best Film at the 58th TrentoFilmfestival. Marianne has recently taken an interest in the political situation in Tibet and has agreed to make Orphelins du Tibet, a film on Tibetan children in India.