Himalaya, a Path to the Sky (Himalaya, le chemin du ciel)

France/India 2008, Documentary, 65' | Director, Screenplay, DoP Marianne Chaud | Editor Francoise Berger | Sound Marianne Chaud, Thierry Delor | Music Marianne Chaud, Olivier Bernet | Production Julie Rouyer

The buildings of the Buddhist monastery of Pukthal, at high altitude in the far northwestern part of the Himalayas, stick to the cliffs like swallows’ nests. Some of the monks who live here are children. Eight-year-old Kenrap was brought by his family to the monastery at his own request when he was five. He believes that he was a monk in an earlier life, and would like to continue on this path. Daily life in the monastery is harsh and tough. The children have to collect wood, fetch water, cook, learn, philosophise and pray. Despite this they are cheerful and happy.

Once a year, in the extreme cold of winter, adult and child monks make a pilgrimage down to the villages and pray for protection for the villagers.. This arduous trek is a test for the young pupils, but also a welcome change from the monotony of the monastery that they have freely chosen. The boys also get to see their families again. The camera accompanies the child monks as if in a dance. Always at their sides, yet keeping a respectful distance. Instead of solemn pilgrims we encounter happy and cheeky little brats who display much wit and affection.


Ethnologist Marianne Chaud, was born in 1976 in Puy-Saint-Vincent, in the Alps. During her studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, she stayed for six months in the Ladakh-Zanskar region and got to know the Buddhist culture of the Himalayas. The photographic documentation of her travels eventually led her to making films. Himalaya, le chemin du ciel is her second documentary.

Marianne Chaud
India, France
Focus: Freedom