How far would you go to save your dying culture? Two Buddhist monks fulfill their pledge to the Dalai Lama to help save their dying Tibetan culture by leading a group of 17 poor children aged 4-12 on a journey from Zanskar in remote northwest India through the Himalayas. To seek an education... On foot. On horseback. By jeep and bus. - Whatever it takes. 30 years ago, when they were children, these monks walked the same path. The 17 children with them now may not return home for 10-15 years or more. This is the story of their incredible journey. Zanskar is one of the last remaining original Tibetan Buddhist societies with a continuous untainted lineage dating back thousands of years. In nearby Tibet and Ladakh, in Sikkim, Bhutan, and Nepal, traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture is either dead already or dying. The horror of Chinese government design in Tibet is being matched by the destruction of global economics elsewhere. Zanskar, ringed by high Himalayan mountains in northwest India, one of the most remote places on the planet, has been safe until now. But that?s changing. In 3-5 years a road connecting Padum, the heart of Zanskar, with Leh, the heart of neighboring Ladakh, will be finished. The route which previously took up to two days by car will take only 4-5 hours. As economic growth descends on Zanskar it will bring with it an end to this unbroken Buddhist social tradition. Will the native language, culture, and religious practice be able to survive? The Dalai Lama has instructed two monks from Zanskar?s Stongde Monastery to do everything in their power to insure that it does. The monks are building a school to educate the children from surrounding villages in their own language, culture, history, and religion. Presently, the government school teaches none of those subjects, and is closed most of the year. The nearby private school also doesn?t teach those subjects and is additionally unaffordable for the area?s poor families. At Stongde, along with indigenous traditions, the children will be educated in the best Western curricula. The monks are racing against the clock. While they complete the school they are also placing local children in other schools and monasteries in the city of Manali and beyond. This requires walking over a 17,500 foot pass.
About the Director
Frederick Marx is an internationally acclaimed, Oscar and Emmy nominated director/writer with 35 years in the film business. He was named a Chicago Tribune Artist of the Year for 1994, a 1995 Guggenheim Fellow, and a recipient of a Robert F. Kennedy Special Achievement Award. His film HOOP DREAMS played in hundreds of theatres nationwide after winning the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was the first documentary ever chosen to close the New York Film Festival. It was on over 100"Ten Best" lists nationwide and was named Best Film of the Year by critics Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel, Gene Shalit, and Ken Turran and by the Chicago Film Critics Association. Ebert also named it Best Film of the Decade. It is one of the highest grossing non-musical documentaries in United States history.
It has won numerous prestigious awards, including an Academy Nomination (Best Editing), Producer's Guild, Editor's Guild (ACE), Peabody Awards, the Prix Italia (Europe's top documentary prize) and The National Society of Film Critics Award. The New York, Boston, LA, and San Francisco Film Critics all chose it as Best Documentary, 1994. Utne Reader named it one of 150 of humanity's essential works, and the Library of Congress recently added it to its prestigious National Film Registry. HOOP DREAMS (1994) is the film that first interested Marx in the welfare of teenage boys. BOYS TO MEN? (2004) distributed by Media Education Foundation takes that as its central theme. BOYS BECOME MEN, now in production, is the sequel, pinpointing initiation and mentorship as the solutions to the problems teen boys face.
In 1993, Marx received an Emmy nomination for HIGHER GOALS (1992) for Best Daytime Children's Special. Producer, Director, and Writer for this national PBS Special, Marx directed Tim Meadows of "Saturday Night Live" fame. Accompanied by a curriculum guide, the program was later distributed for free to over 4,200 inner city schools nationwide. THE UNSPOKEN (1999), Marx's first feature film, features stellar performances from Russian star Sergei Shnirev of the famed Moscow Art Theatre, and Harry Lennix, most known for GET ON THE BUS, BOB ROBERTS, TITUS, ER, and MATRIX. A hobbyist songwriter, in 1991 Marx recorded a number of his songs collectively known as ROLLING STEEL. Two of those 11 songs are used over THE UNSPOKEN tail credits and one is used in BOYS TO MEN?. THE UNSPOKEN and ROLLING STEEL are available through this website.
Having worked for a time as an English and creative writing teacher, Marx began his movie career as a film critic, and has worked both as a film distributor and exhibitor. He has also traveled extensively. He's lived in Germany, China, and Hungary. He's traveled repeatedly through Western and Eastern Europe, North Africa and Himalayan India. With a B.A. in Political Science and an MFA in filmmaking, Marx has coupled his formal education with a natural gift for languages, speaking German and some Mandarin-Chinese. His interest in languages and foreign cultures is reflected in PBS' international human rights program OUT OF THE SILENCE (1991), the widely acclaimed personal essay DREAMS FROM CHINA (1989), and Learning Channel's SAVING THE SPHINX (1997). He consulted on Iranian-Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi's feature TURTLES CAN FLY (2004) and was a teacher of renowned Thai feature filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
He brings a passion for appreciating multiculturalism and an urgent empathy for the sufferings of the disadvantaged to every subject he tackles. As his mission statement indicates (Bearing witness, creating change), his is a voice strong and clear, and profoundly human.