Banned for over thirty years, this portrait of the remote Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim, nestled between Tibet and Nepal, is one of the most remarkable documentaries on Himalayan culture ever made. Worried that the sovereignty of his kingdom was under threat from both China and India, Sikkim's ruler commissioned Ray to create a document of his people, culture, and landscape; before the film was completed, however, Sikkim had been annexed by India, the kingdom relabeled a province, and the film suddenly shelved. Now nearly four decades later, what we see onscreen-mountain orchids, waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks, along with the faces of children, the tasks of adults, and the rituals of the court-is a time capsule of what once was. (The film also captures the relationship between the ruler and his American wife, a New Yorker famed as “the Grace Kelly of the Himalayas.”) One of Ray's rarest works, filled with a quiet purity and a playful inquisitiveness, this essential depiction of Himalayan culture was thought lost (or destroyed) until 2003, when a print was found at the British Film Institute; it was finally screened in 2008.

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