Georgina Barreiro, ARGENTINA, 2018, 71'
World Premiere
Thur. 9.8.2018, 11h00, La Sala
Friday 10.9.2018, 18h30, L'altra Sala

en / it / de / fr

The tree tops skim curls of clouds. Through the sounds of the wind and the birds, distant noises can be heard: two young Buddhist monks are blowing air into seashells, for their religious procession is about to begin. This is the way Argentinian director Georgina Barreiro has chosen to introduce the audience to Khechuperi, a sacred village located in Sikkim, at the heart of the Himalayas. Bordering a variety of places (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet), Sikkim is the least densely populated state in India because of its topography, which includes Kangchenjunga, the country’s highest peak. The rolling landscape is home to the Bhutia, a community of Tibetan origins considered by the Indian government as one of the most disadvantaged in the land.

With La Huella de Tara, Barreiro proposes an overview of this region and its inhabitants. Avoiding the pitfalls of exoticism, the crew follows these people discreetly and shines a fascinating new light on them and their traditions. Barreiro’s approach, which adapts to the rhythm of Khechuperi, shows deep respect to the villagers, making this a truly sincere work of filmmaking. As the ethnographic process introduces the viewer to an unknown culture and spirituality, the film turns out to be what seems like a precious record of the transitioning period the Bhutia are going through. As they are halfway between tradition and modernity, globalisation is catching up with them, threatening their cultural heritage and planting the seeds for political turmoil in their progressively more open region.

Located on the heights of the village, Lake Khechuperi works as a reflection of this transitional time. It looks like a footprint (hence the film’s title) and is a sacred place to Buddhists and local tribes, for the goddess Tara is said to have walked here. This pilgrimage site is now threatened by growing tourism, while deforestation is endangering its biodiversity, and the ecological management of the area has proven disastrous. The villagers now stand at a crossroads. By filming their everyday life – religious rituals, singing competitions, family moments, and candid shots – La Huella de Tara immortalises a history and culture that seems to have already passed, thereby asking questions about the impact of contemporary societies.

Loïc Valceschini