Directed and Produced by Bari Pearlman | Cinematography by Gena Konstantinakos | Edited by Carla Ruff
On the Eastern Tibetan plateau of Kham, at an altitude of 14,000 feet, subsistence farmers and nomadic herding families sprinkle the craggy mountains of Nangchen. Their way of life has changed little in over 2,000 years, and for most it is a life of illiteracy, poverty and hunger. In Nangchen, everyone is born Buddhist, and it is an honor for a family to have a son become a monk and practice Buddhism without distraction. Living at a monastery, he transcends the hardships of everyday life and gains spiritual training, an education, and status as a community leader.
This option has traditionally never been available to a daughter - her single destiny is to be married off in exchange for livestock, and to bear children who will become workers on the family farm. Within the socio-economic realities of rural daily life, it was believed that to educate a woman was a waste of valuable resources. But now, for the first time, the women of Nangchen are being given the choice to change the course of their lives. Built with their own hands and ever expanding, the Kala Rongo Monastery is home to nearly 300 nuns who study and practice full-time, creating new opportunities for themselves and for the community they serve.
DAUGHTERS OF WISDOM is an intimate experiential portrait of these nuns, who are receiving unprecedented educational and spiritual training, and preserving their rich cultural heritage even as they slowly reshape it. Some shy, some outspoken, all committed to the often difficult life they have chosen, the nuns graciously allowed our camera a never-before-seen glimpse into their vibrant spiritual community and insight into their extraordinary lives.
After winning awards and playing at film festivals and cultural institutions around the world. the film is now available for instant viewing on VOD (click above) and through the Kanopy streaming platform, available from many public and university libraries. Or to set up a screening in your community, please contact us and we'll be happy to help.
This Film Would Not Have Been Possible Without The Generous Funding and Support Of: The Jerome Foundation, The Lucius and Eva Eastman Foundation, IFP/NYSCA Distribution Grant, The Hartley Film Foundation, Flight 001, ATA Audio, Daniel Cristofano, Elizabeth Cutler & Joanna Manikas (You're the best!), Carter Etherington, Scott & Barbara Baum Gallant, Lenore & Norman Kaufman, Larry & MaryLynn Pearlman, and Zoran Princevic.
Documentary filmmaker Bari Pearlman has taken
her cameras to a harshly beautiful corner of rural
Tibet, where an unlikely movement toward female
empowerment is taking place.
What really makes DAUGHTERS OF WISDOM a
magical experience is the way Pearlman captures
life in that valley. Open and expansive, the endless
green fields and hills below those bold peaks have a
utopian quality, full of the laughter of people
engaged in work and play.
DAUGHTERS OF WISDOM takes us inside the
sisterhood, providing a touching and surprising
glimpse of ac olorful Buddhist institution...The nuns
display spontaneity and joyfulness...their bursts of
giddy laughter may not be a sign of enlightenment,
but they are certainly contagious.
San Francisco Weekly