Review: ‘Pasang: In The Shadow of Everest’ Showcases a National Hero with Tenacity to Spare

Pasang: In The Shadow of Everest

Pasang: In the Shadow of Everest brings to life the untold and inspiring story of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the first Nepali woman to summit Mt. Everest who, in her quest, awakened her country to the entrenched inequalities confronted and endured by women and in Nepal.

Why do people climb mountains? What is it that drives a person to climb to the peak of the highest mountain on earth? As a person afraid of heights and generally risk-averse, I, for one, will certainly never understand. But whatever it is that lights that kind of internal fire within a person, it is certainly not a male instinct alone. 

 Although not intentional, it was ultimately very appropriate that I watched Pasang: In The Shadow of Everest on International Womens’ Day. The film tells the story of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the first Nepali woman to summit Mt. Everest in 1993. Succeeding in a sport dominated by men and traditionally an elite pastime of the western world, Pasang also battled ethnic discrimination, cultural gender norms, and even political opposition to become a national hero. Filmmaker Nancy Svendsen does a lovely job presenting Pasang’s tenacity and determination, which boldly shines through as she pushes back against skepticism and critique at every turn.

 Just in time for Womens’ History month, this film is a poignant example of the many untold tales of female heroism that are frequently under-recognized. Pasang: In The Shadow of Everest is an inspiring story that deserves the attention and recognition of international audiences.

Pasang: In The Shadow of Everest premiered at SBIFF on March 3rd.

Director: Nancy Svendsen

Writer/Producer: Sharon Wood

Producer: Christy McGill

Executive Producer: Ang Dorjee Sherpa

TRT: 72 minutes

Country: USA

Year: 2022

Language: English, French, Nepali

Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2022 review: Feeling leads to healing in Nicole Mejia’s brilliant directorial debut, ‘A PLACE IN THE FIELD.’

Unresolved trauma, redemption, and one big promise drives war veteran Gio’s epic road trip. The subtlety of the film’s opening moments tells us precisely who this man is. Taking life one day at a time since returning from war is a deliberate decision. As his journey continues on the open road, so does his perspective on life and others.

Khorri Ellis is the perfect foil for Don DiPetta. The nuance of this performance will stick with you. I want casting directors to take notice here. DiPetta as Gio plays the entire gambit of emotions. The resentment and simmering anger are hiding just under the surface. Surrounded by a strong supporting cast, DiPetta’s vulnerability captivates. Ellis and DiPetta have chemistry that makes A Place in the Field extraordinary.

The use of natural light gives the film life. You cannot ignore the cinematography. The pack symbolism is clever. The juxtaposition of coyotes and Gio’s fallen brothers is unmistakable. Alongside progressively artistic flashbacks from his time in the field, the screenplay is both poetic and cathartic. The emotional pull of A Place in the Field is indescribable. It creeps up on you in a way you won’t notice at first. You feel Gio’s grief and anxiety palpably. If nothing else, it will make you wonder how much we’re doing for soldiers who return from war. When we have police officers get a psych test after they discharge their firearms, it is clear we’re doing the bare minimum for our veterans. PTSD cannot be ignored. A Place in the Field is a real win for Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2022 and for the inevitable wider audiences to come.

For more information on Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2022 click here!

Review: ‘The Knot’ is a battle between karma and pride.


Shirish and Geeta, a middle-class couple, have a car accident one night. Their differing reactions to the fallout from the accident open up fissures in their relationship and puts to test their values and beliefs.

Before we were married, my husband and I lived in India for a year. We pretended to be married to avoid the social scrutiny. We purchased a scooter to get places on the weekends and took rickshaw rides as infrequently as possible because of Westerner price gouging. The streets were always overflowing with vehicles and people. Before I continue, I feel I must preface this review with the fact that my husband and I are white. We were born and raised on the east coast of the United States. Once we arrived in India, we dove headfirst into the culture, food, and local customs. It was all so new to us. We would be forever changed by our time there. The social structure in India is a caste system. The disparity between the upper class and the lower class is astounding. In the US, it’s easier to hide. There is a bit more visual nuance. In India, it’s much more black and white. In Ashish Pant‘s The Knot, a young, affluent couple is forced to confront that very social construct after a sudden accident. The foundation of their marriage begins to crack as the lies they tell one another and themselves will have dire consequences.

The Knot is a morality tale and a relationship movie. Geeta and Shirish are forced to confront their own flaws and the power dynamics in their marriage. Shirish’s obsession with status comes to a head with Geeta’s attempts to dissolve her guilt. Performances across the board are wonderful and the look of the film is lush. The Knot makes a point to show the realities of the country. This authenticity is key to the film’s success. The traffic is a chaotic free-for-all. We lived in Hyderabad. Drivers didn’t use their turn signals, instead, they would honk their horns. From the audio in the film, it sounds as if little has changed since 2009. It’s indescribably dangerous. We often wondered how many hit-and-run deaths were hidden due to the normalized practice of bribery. The film slyly grapples with the hierarchy at its worst. Pant uses subtle shifts in language, music, and dialect to illustrate caste. It’s such an intelligent and daring screenplay. The Knot boasts an explosive finale. The very last pan of the camera and the breaking of the fourth wall is chilling. Bravo to Ashish Pant for making such a fearless debut film.


Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2020 review: The world premiere of ‘The Night’ is as captivating as it is terrifying.

Kourosh Ahari’s THE NIGHT
The Iranian-American Ahari makes a startling feature directorial debut with a stylish psychological thriller about a young couple trapped in a mysterious hotel that hungers for their secrets and may not release them or their child back into the world. The film stars Shahab Hosseini (star of A SEPARATION and THE SALESMAN).

What a knock out world premiere for director Kourosh Ahari. Beautifully lush cinematography (including some early haunting POV shots) props up the richness of The Night. The score adds a layer or jarring dread that is simply gorgeous. While the script skillfully utilizes a number of classic tropes, it is also stacked with a multitude of original imagery that unnerves the viewer from the very beginning. I was thrown for a loop more times than I can count. The heightened sound editing also pushes The Night into next-level scary. The plot will have you questioning your own sanity. Is this a dispute between exhausted new parents? Is this an alcohol-induced hallucination? Or is this hotel housing unwanted guests?

Performances are so strong you will quickly forget that the film is predominantly in Farsi. As Parasite director Boon Jong-Ho so eloquently stated at this year’s Golden Globes, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” This is the most important quote in cinema right now. Kourosh Ahari’s THE NIGHT is a heart-pounding and twisted watch. Santa Barbara International Film Festival is lucky to host its world premiere. This film should be on every genre fan’s radar this year.