Banff Mountain Film Festival tour tells a tale of Himalayan hope 

Award-winning Tashi and The Monk among the films to be shown at Millennium Place

click to enlarge SCREENSHOT SUBMITTED - Tashi and the Monk The award-winning documentary and other films are on tour.
  • Screenshot submitted
  • Tashi and the Monk The award-winning documentary and other films are on tour.

Tashi is a beautiful five-year-old girl who was abandoned by her alcoholic father shortly after her mother died.

Part of the Monpa community in the Himalayas of northern India, Tashi is severely troubled by the hardships she has experienced in her short life. She picks fights with other children and threatens her toys with shocking violence as she plays.

She would have been in terrible danger but for the Buddhist monk Lobsang, who founded Jhamtse Garsal, the orphanage that took the youngster in and gave her a family.

Eighty-five orphaned or abandoned brothers and sisters, to be exact.

Their relationship, her rescue, and the survival of the orphanage are the subjects of an award-winning short documentary, Tashi and The Monk.

It is the main feature and one of 10 short films being shown as part of The Best of the Banff Mountain Film Festival tour, and will be screened at Millennium Place on Friday, Feb. 13 and Saturday, Feb. 14. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m.

The tour also stops in Squamish at Quest University on Thursday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at Escape Route.

Note: there will be different films shown at both locations.

Jeff Jenner is involved in the charity set up to support Jhamtse Garsal, Jhamtse Canada.

Jhamtse, Jenner explains, means love and compassion in Tibetan.

"We've been to the community a couple of times and my two-year-old daughter is best friends with Tashi," he adds.

The charity is launching a capital campaign to build the orphanage real residences, so they can take on additional children. The children currently sleep in the classrooms.

The documentary is part of this effort to raise awareness.

Tashi and The Monk won several awards at the Telluride Film Festival, the Banff Mountain Culture Film Festival, and took best documentary from the International Documentarians Associations film awards for 2014.

Filmmakers Andrew Hinton and Johnny Burke raised the funds to shoot Tashi and The Monk on their own.

"So they created the film they wanted to create," Jenner says.

What moves him about the story?

"What's incredible to me is that Johnny and Andrew shot this film over three months, and the children are all speaking a Tibetan dialect and the filmmakers didn't know what they were filming every day. They would get it translated every night and they would create a story out of what was filmed. They were able to create this beautiful film without understanding the language," Jenner says.

"It tells you what great storytellers they are. We ended up calling it Jhamtse magic."

Nathalie White of, who has been bringing the Banff Mountain Film Festival tour to Whistler for almost 20 years, says that Squamish filmmaker Darcy Turrenne's The Little Things will be shown at both Whistler and Squamish.

"We barely cover our costs in bringing the tour here, but we like bringing it to both towns," White says.

"People start asking us about it as early as September. There is a good turnout every year."

For more information on Jhamtse Garsal orphanage visit


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