About this project
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PROJECT UPDATE - here's what we'll do with additional funding!
ABOUT THE FILM:
Shot over 5 years in Ladakh, India THE SONG COLLECTOR is the story of Morup Namgyal and the Lamdon Society and their pioneering social movement for the preservation of Ladakhi culture.
WATCH THE TRAILER
In the 1960s Morup Namgyal walked hundreds of miles throughout his homeland of Ladakh, touring villages and documenting their folk songs. This journey began his lifelong efforts to preserve Ladakh’s vanishing folk songs.
Situated on the Western edge of the Tibetan plateau, Ladakh is home to a culture that is unique in all of the Himalayas. The region survived as a Buddhist Kingdom for over 1,000 years until 1947 when it was incorporated into the Indian state and set on a crash course with modernization.
Morup Namgyal has spent over 40 years archiving Ladakh’s vanishing folk music, however, he recognized early on that recordings alone could not preserve the songs. Compelled by this foresight, Morup co-founded The Lamdon Society; this group of artists and social activists created the pioneering movement for the preservation of Ladakhi culture. In the early 1970s they founded The Lamdon School, the region’s first to break from the government curriculum and teach in the native Ladahki language. Today, the Lamdon School educates over 2,000 children and is the region's most vital force for the preservation of Ladakhi culture.
Despite these achievements, Ladakh’s culture still faces an uncertain future. THE SONG COLLECTOR is a personal journey that explores Morup’s past and present as he struggles to reconcile his extraordinary efforts with modernization’s advance. While there are no easy answers to these challenges, Morup’s story is ultimately a celebration of grassroots social action and the incredible impact it has had on both Morup personally and the culture of Ladakh.
After 5 years of shooting and 7 trips to Ladakh, all filming is completed! I have dozens of great interviews and 4TB of well organized footage ready to be made into a film. I have identified an extremely talented and dedicated editor in James Allen Smith who is ready to begin work on completing this film. Please check www.thesongcollector.com for updates on the progress of the film.
The stretch goal will allow us to do three very important additional things for the film:
- Professional mastering of original folk music recordings for use in the film and released as a soundtrack.
- Professional color correction of the edited film
- Any additional funding beyond that will be used as seed funds for a 5 city world tour with Morup Namgyal to kick off the distribution of the film. My greatest ambition for this film is that it raises awareness and efforts for cultural preservation in Ladakh. There is no better way to get that started than having Morup share his story in person.
WHAT MAKES THIS FILM UNIQUE?
1. Beautiful archival imagery - Much of this story is set in the 1940s through 1970s. Over the last 5 years, I've collected an incredible set of archival film and photos that will bring this period to life. I am fortunate that Morup had a friend with a camera in the 1960s so his life is well illustrated with beautiful black and white photos. My most exciting find was in 2010 when I was handed an ancient looking reel of 16mm film by a Ladakhi friend, the contents were a mystery. When I had the reel digitized back in Seattle I was blow away by the footage. The film was most likely shot by British adventurers in the early 1940s, and is a one-of-a-kind historical document of life in Ladakh. To my knowledge this film and it has not been seen in decades.
2. Ladakh is a powerful setting - Few mountain areas on Earth can compare to Ladakh's rugged beauty, fewer still are also home to an amazingly rich culture. Situated on the Western edge of the Tibetan plateau, Ladakh was spared the cultural destruction suffered in neighboring Tibet. As a result, Ladakh offers the world a glimpse into an vibrant and intact Tibetan Buddhist culture. Despite it's relative isolation even today, Ladakh's culture is still very much under threat. It is my hope that this film will raise awareness and efforts to protect the fragile traditional culture of Ladakh.
3. This film has amazing music - Morup Namgyal is a gifted musician and his music fills the film. Song is deeply woven into all aspects of Ladakh life; the history, religion, occupations, entertainments, and ceremonies of Ladakh are all rich with song. These songs form a living record of Ladakhi life, and their preservation is essential. I've been fortunate to record with Morup and many of the other great musicians of Ladakh. Their songs help tell the story of Ladakh and give the film life.
4. An inspirational hero - Morup was born in a remote farming village and not educated beyond the 8th grade. Despite this, he has made immeasurable contributions to the education and culture of Ladakh. Morup is an inspiring and selfless figure and truly personifies the practice of Karma. This film celebrates the incredible impact individuals can have when they take action at a grassroots level.
Morup Namgyal - Ladakh's greatest folk singer, co-founder of the Lamdon Society and School. Over the last 5 years I have followed Morup everywhere with a camera. I have conducted numerous interviews and spent over two weeks living and filming with him and his family.
Tsering Tsampfel - Co-founder of the Lamdon Society, political activist, Tsering Tsampfel was instrumental in formally establishing the Lamdon Society and School. He is a former member of Indian Parliament.
Lama Thupstan Palden - Co-founder of the Lamdon Society and prominent buddhist scholar. Lama Palden has published over 100 books on Buddhism, ladakhi history, and ladakhi culture.
The Dalai Lama - A long time supporter of the Lamdon School and great admirer of Morup's folk singing. The Dalai Lama provided his thoughts on the importance of Lamdon School to the people of Ladakh.
Thupstan Chhewang - Political activist and leader of the movement for Ladakhi self representation in the Indian Government. He is also a former member of Parliament.
Dr. Shema Landol - One of the first female doctors in Ladakh, Dr. Landol is a pioneer in the field of women's health in Ladakh.
Tswang Dorje - One of the most highly regarded and published poets of Ladakh. Tsweang Dorje is an advocate for the preservation of the traditional Ladakh language.
Tashi Targus - Political activist and one of the great orators of Ladakh, Tashi Targus beautifully articulates the traditional lifestyle of Ladakh.
Risks and challenges
All filming and interviews are 100% complete and I have rights for all the music and archival imagery to be used. From a production and content perspective there are minimal to no risks.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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