Tsunma, Tsunma: My Summer with the Female Monastics of the Himalaya

Tsunma, an honorific term connoting “noble, delicate, and pure”, refers to the Tibetan Buddhist Nuns of the Himalayan Region who have been largely dismissed or forgotten by the traditions they follow and the societies they’ve served. Taiwanese photographer Lin Li-Fang undertook a solo journey up 4,270 meters into the Himalayan Plateau and lived for an entire summer with some of these nuns and recorded life in the unforgiving environment dubbed “The Roof of the World”. There, Li-Fang captured a life devoted to hope and faith and a people possessing a unique kind of tolerance, humility, and perseverance.

This is a story of the Nuns of the Himalayas, of seeing one’s life through theirs, that is, a life lived in faith and with the spark of a summer eternal.

  • Lifang Lin
  • Gavin Lin
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    1 hour 10 minutes
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  • Activator Marketing Co., Ltd
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    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Lifang Lin

Lin Li-Fang was born 1965 in Taishi Township in Yunlin County of Taiwan. In 1989 she became a photojournalist for Commonwealth Magazine and was featured in four photography exhibits. She graduated from CTI College in Photography in Lyon, France in 1993. In 1999 she began traveling to India, documenting the life and work of Tibetan Buddhist Monks. In 2000, she was awarded Taiwan’s Golden Tripod Award for Individual Achievement in Magazine Photography. In 2002, she received her MFA in Documentary Filmmaking from the National Taiwan University of Arts Graduate School of Applied Media Arts. In 2005, she won the Johnny Walker’s “Keep Walking” Prize. To date, she has completed the following films: “Papa’s Youthful Dream”, “Buddha’s Sons”, “The Returners”, and “My Mother”. Her films have been selected in film festivals all around the world, including France, Holland, and Japan. “Tsunma, Tsunma: My Summer with the Female Monastic of the Himalaya " is her newest feature length documentary.

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Director Statement

Looking back, I really felt that my solo trip to the Himalayan region of India--at more than 3700m in Ladakh and 4250m in Spiti—to make a documentary about the Ani (nuns) has been the wildest and bravest thing I’ve done creatively.

I’ve come to realize the sacred in hope and faith and the tremendous strength found in the pure of heart. I fell and felt deeply for the beauty of the mountains and, at once, with the desolation behind this beauty. What struck me was how so much can mean so little and, consequently, how so little can mean so much. I don’t know if I will ever be back here again. Nonetheless, my time here brimmed with a kind of vitality through seeing a life lived with the spark of a summer eternal.