The Wall of Shadows review – climbing film overturns smiling Sherpa stereotype

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Eliza Kubarska’s documentary follows the plight of the Nepalis expected to take huge risks to aid western leisure pursuits

Like Jennifer Peedom’s 2015 film, Sherpa, this climbing documentary is more interested in the Nepali ethnic group than the westerners who hire them – chipping away at the stereotype of Sherpas as smiling, uncomplaining helpers. The director is climber and documentary-maker Eliza Kubarska whose film follows Ngada, who has eight Everest ascents under his belt. He is agonising about whether to guide a trio of experienced climbers – two Russians and a Pole – on an expedition to the unclimbed eastern face of Kumbhakarna, a more dangerous and difficult climb than Everest.

The reason Ngada is willing to risk it is that his 16-year-old son, Dawa, is a gifted student who dreams of becoming a doctor, but there is no money to pay for his education. Some of the scenes in the family’s home feel staged, or at least reconstructed, as Ngada and his wife, Jomdoe, bicker about whether he should take the Kumbhakarna job. Jomdoe cooks for Ngada’s expeditions and is no slouch. While pregnant she lugged a 25kg load to base camp; she says it’s mad to climb the mountain. You can see her point when Kumbhakarna looms into view, a fearsome hulk of rock and ice. The expedition is plagued by heavy snowfall and Ngada wants to call it a day, fearing an avalanche, but if he doesn’t climb, he doesn’t get paid. The trio press ahead.

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Written by Cath Clarke
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/film/2022/apr/18/the-wall-of-shadows-review-climbing-film-subverts-smiling-sherpa-stereotype under the title “The Wall of Shadows review – climbing film overturns smiling Sherpa stereotype”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.