Gateway | Gateway
When young Tibetan farmer Drolma (a radiant Nyima Sungsung) receives news she’s seriously ill, she decides to go on a pilgrimage to Lhasa. For her, this means a gruelling, year-long walk over Tibetan mountain roads, during which she must prostrate herself every three steps. Drolma’s gruff, loving husband Dorje (well-known singer/actor Yungdrung Gyal) hesitates but can’t say no to her. Before she leaves, she visits the home of her parents, who have been raising her severely uncommunicative, now 10-year-old son Norbu (a mesmerizing Sechok Gyal). Drolma sets of with two female friends who, faced with miserable weather (it’s cold and raining) and the rigours of carrying her equipment and sleeping outdoors, end up abandoning her part way. But Dorje brings Norbu to join her on the road, and the family has an opportunity to relearn and build anew their emotional relationships. Secret intimate sadnesses and unexpected connections emerge, gently infusing this profoundly beautiful, deceptively simple family road movie and transforming it into a delicate psychological and spiritual journey.
Sonthar Gyal started as art director and cinematographer for Pema Tseden. His first film as director, The Sun Beaten Path, concerned the rigours of returning from a Lhasa pilgrimage, and won our VIFF Dragons and Tigers award in 2011.
— Shelly Kraicer
Grand Jury Prize: Best Screenplay, Shanghai 18