Documentary: Facing the Mountain (2016)

Announcing the release of a short film about faith, resilience and change in the Himalayas!

Coping with extremes is part of life for people across the Himalayas. Uncertain summers follow freezing winters, as monsoon rains deluge the mountains, carrying the danger of landslides and floods. But in June 2013, in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, conditions fatefully aligned to produce an unprecedented disaster.

At Kedarnath, a sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, thousands of pilgrims and locals were faced with a once-in-a-generation catastrophe. Floodwaters and debris tore through buildings, roads were swept away, and thousands of lives were lost.

Three years later, the river cuts a calmer line through the Kedar valley and the sounds of mule bells and tramping feet rise and fall again along the pilgrims’ trail. In ‘Facing the Mountain’, through the words of survivors, local elders and new visitors, we are shown a portrait of a place where the events of 2013 have taken their place in a larger story. The enduring story of the region is not one of tragedy, but of resilience, of faith, and of eternal change.

20 minutes | Directed by Ross Harrison and Vaibhav Kaul | Produced by Vaibhav Kaul | Score by Juliet Aaltonen | Find out more

10 November 2016 (preview screening and discussion): School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK
16 November 2016 (world/European première, discussion, and research exhibition): ICoSS, University of Sheffield, UK
17-20 November 2016 (screenings and Q&A): Kendal Mountain Festival, Kendal, UK
20 November 2016 (screening): Explore 2016 (flagship event for expeditions), Royal Geographical Society, London, UK
8-12 December 2016 (Asian première): Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival, Kathmandu, Nepal
10-18 February 2017 (North American première): Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, Vancouver, Canada
16 February 2017 (screening and videoconference): World Meteorological Organisation, Geneva, Switzerland
22 February 2017 (screening and discussion): Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Oxford, UK
24 February 2017 (screening and discussion): Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, UK
11-15 April 2017 (screening and discussion): Ethnografilm, Ciné XIII Théâtre, Paris, France
27 April 2017 (showcase): Nominee for a Learning on Screen Award, BFI Southbank, London, UK
27 April – 7 May 2017 (screening): Trento Film Festival, Trento, Italy
30 April – 7 May 2017 (screening): New York Indian Film Festival, Village East Cinemas, New York City, USA
22-26 November 2017 (screening): Bansko International Mountain Film Festival, Bansko, Bulgaria
4-8 January 2018 (special screening): Kirloskar Vasundhara International Film Festival, Pune, India
9-11 January 2018 (screening): Frames Film Festival, Mumbai, India
28 November 2018 (screening with Q&A): Sheffield Institute for International Development, The Diamond, Sheffield, UK
21-24 March 2019 (screening): Water Docs Film Festival, Hot Docs Cinema, Toronto, Canada

Official Selection 2017 (Virtual): Wasatch Mountain Film Festival, USA
Official Selection 2017: Pickurflick Indie Film Festival, India
Official Selection 2017: BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Echo Film Festival, Russia



Featured article and video: Kedarnath

“Now, as Kaul looked down, he saw that the basin was empty. He knew what had occurred: The moraine had ruptured, letting loose the lake’s entire contents in a catastrophic spasm.”

“Ahora, cuando Kaul mira hacia abajo, ve la cuenca vacía. Sabe lo que ha ocurrido: la morrena se ha roto, por lo que se ha vaciado el contenido completo del lago en una riada catastrófica.”

Unnatural Disaster: Yale Environment 360 special report and video by Daniel Grossman (Español: Desastres no naturales)

Kedarnath debris flow disaster (Vaibhav Kaul, 2013)

Forthcoming Events

Featured publication: Kaul and Thornton (2014)

Kaul, V and Thornton, T F (2014) Resilience and adaptation to extremes in a changing Himalayan environment.

Regional Environmental Change (Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg) 14: 683-698