Himalayan Stories: The Song Collector || Tashi and the Monk

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Human interest stories from the Himalayan region, dealing with the delicate balance between cultural traditions and modernization, abandonment and compassion

TASHI AND THE MONK: Former Buddhist monk Lobsang left a life as a spiritual teacher in the United States to create a unique community in the foothills of the Himalayas which rescues orphaned and neglected children. 5 year-old Tashi is the newest arrival.

THE SONG COLLECTOR: A Himalayan folk singer struggles to reconcile his culture’s decline with the advantages of modernization.

Filmmakers Erik Koto and Andrew Hinton will be in attendance for a post-film Q/A.


 DET1 (1)Directed by Andrew Hinton & Johnny Burke
Runtime: 39min
Language: Hindi, Tibetan (with English subtitles)
Country: USA/India
Year: 2014

On a remote mountaintop a brave social experiment is taking place. Former Buddhist monk Lobsang was trained under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama but 8 years ago left a life as a spiritual teacher in the United States to create a unique community in the foothills of the Himalayas which rescues orphaned and neglected children. 5 year-old Tashi is the newest arrival. Her mother recently passed away and she’s been abandoned by her alcoholic father. Wild and troubled, Tashi is struggling to find her place amongst 84 new siblings. Can the community’s love  and compassion transform Tashi’s alienation and tantrums into a capacity to make her first real friend?

2016 Emmy Winner!


DIR1Andrew Hinton, Director
I was originally drawn to India by a bank manager bringing about social change, and then kept being pulled back to that strange, magical and chaotic country by inspirational stories and people. I spent a month living on a train to document the Jagriti Yatra, a journey around India with 500 young social entrepreneurs. I met a paperboy in Jamshedpur who I followed for a day, creating a short film which won the Vimeo Documentary Award. And I worked with an NGO to make a film about handwashing which has been viewed online over 350,000 times.

I first visited Jhamtse Gatsal in April 2012 to shoot a piece for the Thiel Foundation. My three day visit turned into three happy weeks and I left promising to return one day to make a longer film about the community. In October 2013 I went back and was joined by old friend and fellow filmmaker Johnny Burke to document the quietly remarkable lives of Lobsang and the Jhamtse family.


DET1Directed by Erik Koto
Runtime: 54min
Language: Ladhaki (with English subtitles)
Country: India
Year: 2013

In the 1960s Morup Namgyal sparked a cultural movement that would bring about profound change in his homeland of Ladakh. It was a movement built on education, tradition, and preservation. What Morup could not imagine at that time was that he would ultimately embrace modernization.

Through the intimate interactions of three generations of the Namgyal family, The Song Collector explores the uneasy relationship between culture and development and ultimately offers a new vision, inspired by the Buddhist concept of the ‘middle path’, that seeks to find a lasting coexistence between tradition and modernization.


DIRErik Koto first discovered a love for the Himalayas on a 2,000-mile bike tour across Pakistan and Western Tibet in 2001. He returned to the Himalayas in 2008 when he traveled to Ladakh to produce a fundraising film for the non-profit Lamdon School. At that time he was introduced to Morup Namgyal, a Himalayan folk singer who would become the subject of Erik’s first feature length documentary, The Song Collector. During the six years spent shooting The Song Collector, Erik also produced fundraising films for multiple non-profit organizations operating in Ladakh. These films have been broadcast on Indian TV and been instrumental in helping to raise over $250,000. Erik lives and works in Seattle, WA where he is active in the local documentary community including serving two terms as a board member of 911 Media Arts, a non-profit organization dedicated to filmmaking and video art.