Private Project

Documentary Into the Heart of the Mountain

For 40 years, the Nomads Clinic, an initiative created and led by Zen Buddhist spiritual leader Roshi Joan Halifax, has undertaken annual medical pilgrimages to some of the most remote and inaccessible mountain regions of the Himalayas in Nepal. Following ancient trails and crossing passes of more than 18.000 feet, the Nomads Clinic has facilitated urgent medical care for the indigenous people living there, as well as raising awareness about health and hygiene and empowering the preservation of their cultures. Equally, the lives and perspectives of the Western clinicians and supporters of these clinics have been transformed through their contact with the resilience, generosity and dignity of people living close to the earth and the elemental forces of the natural world.

‘Into the Heart of the Mountain’ is a multifaceted documentary that takes the viewer on a circuitous trail through Humla, a spectacular Himalayan mountainous district close to the Tibetan border. Secluded to a large degree from modern life even today, this area is home to the spiritual, pre-Buddhist, Bon culture. So far, these indigenous people have managed to preserve their social, cultural, economic, and political integrity. However, climate change together with their struggle for rights to their ancestral, nomadic lands and natural resources are undermining the very fabric of their existence. That is why many indigenous people are abandoning the land and migrating to urban areas in search of better living conditions, employment, and education for their children.

This film, as well as documenting the efforts of brave and committed clinicians, is also the portrayal of a way of life and a natural world in transition. It was a very challenging film to make in terms of the remoteness of the area, altitude, and logistics. Yet, the filmmaker is convinced that the mobilization of awareness around the role of indigenous people as stewards of the earth, and the preservation of their rich shamanic traditions, is of vital importance. The cultural and spiritual traditions of indigenous people have much to offer since they relativize a purely anthropocentric outlook in favor of a more respectful and sustainable exchange with the natural world we all share. ‘Into the Heart of the Mountain’ bears witness to one such interchange where modern science, indigenous life and the elemental forces of nature become a mutually enriching, inspiring and healing interchange. The circular route of the pilgrimage becomes a symbol for an ideal circle of life where each element is in balance and of equal importance. Roshi Joan Halifax, as well as participating in the Nomads Clinic, is the narrator of this documentary, and her words and teachings underscore this vision.

Filming the Documentary: Into the Heart of the Mountain

Bosman: The pilgrimage was tough. I was filming during hikes in rain and mud, in the cold and snow and at the extreme altitudes. I deliberately chose to film alone and to keep the team as small as possible. This way, I could capture intimate stories because people are more likely to trust you and let you into their lives when they are not intimidated by a whole camera crew. It allows them to remain authentic.

This meant of course that I had to do everything myself during the trip; directing, filming, production; charging all the batteries with solar panels after a day of hiking and filming; loading and backing up the film material, all in an environment of moisture, rain and extreme cold. At night, in my tent, trying to sleep with a hot water bottle and the camera batteries to keep them charged, I would sometimes ask myself, why am I doing all this? The answer is always the same. It’s a deep curiosity about something or someone. It’s the way I become invested in other people’s lives, causing me to shed assumptions and biases so that I’m openly and humbly taking in information.

It’s very enlivening to be physically and mentally challenged. It's empowering to discover what I can tolerate and what my limits are; to know that I don't always have to opt for the comfort zone. But most of all it makes me realize how and under what conditions these indigenous people live and survive. I leave again with a story to tell. They remain.

We are living in difficult times plagued by multiple crises. In our Western culture we suffer the loss of certain values essential for our ultimate happiness and wellbeing. Nevertheless, I still have so much faith and hope in the process of bringing these environmental, cultural, and social challenges to consciousness. We need to keep looking at indigenous peoples to learn or rediscover what's important in life. Through my work, I wish to inspire people to create a more balanced world. Images have a remarkable influence. Cinematic documentaries and journalistic photos are a strong medium with the potential to broaden our vision and change our perspective.

This film was made thanks to donations, the sponsorship of equipment and, in the post-production phase, the grit and determination of the filmmaker. In addition to directing, screenwriting, filming and production, Bosman also took care of the editing of the film, due to the lack of a budget during the Covid19 outbreak and the temporary closure of the usual funding facilities. It was a pilgrimage of another kind.

Annegré Bosman’s work has been broadcast by all the major broadcasters such as National Geographic, the Dutch NPO, RTL 4 and SBS6 and her work is distributed worldwide.

  • Annegré Bosman
    Documentary Wildlife Savers, unsung heroes, Documentary serie Life in the frontline, see film productions:
  • By Nature Films Foundation
  • Roshi Joan Halifax
    Key Cast
    Upaya Zen Center
  • Tempa Dukte Lama
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 37 minutes 25 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 30, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    15,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Nepali
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Annegré Bosman

Annegré Bosman, a documentary filmmaker, photojournalist, film producer, adventurer, and founder of the By Nature Films Foundation is driven by an insatiable curiosity to explore, uncover and tell stories often hitherto untold and concealed from view.

After studying journalism she worked in the TV broadcasting industry for more than 20 years. Since that time, she has dedicated herself to bringing new perspectives and deeper public understanding to topics around Human Rights with a special focus on Women's Rights, Indigenous Cultures, Gender Equality, Climate Change, Nature & Wildlife Conservation.

Bosman has journeyed to the most challenging corners of the world to develop her film projects. Her films and photographs center around conflicts and adventures, from Europe to South Sudan, Malawi, Gambia, Suriname, Netherlands Antilles, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Indonesia, and several remote Himalayan regions in Nepal.

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Director Statement

Annegré Bosman travels to extreme and often remote regions of the Earth to document not only the physical landscapes, but also the people living there. In her films and photographs, the dramatic peaks of Nepal, the deserts of South Sudan and Indonesian rainforests are also backdrops for the soulscapes of people whose territories are being altered, often dramatically, by climate change, governments, business developments, and exploitative individuals.

Her outer explorations interface with profound enquiries into the role of humans in relation to the natural world and how we express our humanity. It forms the basis for her work as
director, screenwriter, filmmaker, and editor.

Bosman: My connection to storytelling was first and foremost driven by a passion for nature, wildlife, cultures, and traditions. In the context of the risks we face through the depletion and pollution of the Earth’s resources, I have come to realize how much we need to expand our lens to include our humanity, rather than focus on nature as something separate to be ‘saved.’ In the broadest sense, we need to save ourselves.

Bosman has filmed from helicopters; braved savannahs filled with snares and traps laid by poachers to trap and kill wildlife and documented the largest and most significant elephant translocations in human history to protect the species and repopulate a large reserve in Malawi. Stories about women’s rights activists in Nepal, subcultures in the Dutch Antilles, destructive fishing in Indonesia or medical assistance to refugees in South Sudan are all stories filmed and documented by Bosman, important aspects of which, were it not for her, would otherwise have gone untold. Being a female filmmaker wasn't always appreciated in certain countries, because of Bosman's fearlessness, she managed to hold her own in all circumstances. Bosman: I'm a fly on the wall during filming, but when I need to be there, I'm there. I will not be guided or intimidated by anyone to prevent me from achieving my goals. Always acting out of respect for the other, even if they have different views.