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SBIFF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and education organization dedicated to making a positive impact utilizing the power of film. SBIFF is a year-round organization that is best known for its main film festival that takes place each year in February. Over the past 30 years the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 90,000 attendees and offering 11days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums. We bring the best of independent and international cinema to Santa Barbara, and we continue to expand our year-round operation to include a wide range of educational programming, fulfilling our mission to engage, enrich and inspire our community through film.

In June 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. The theatre is SBIFF’s new home and is the catalyst for our program expansion. This marks the first time that Santa Barbara has had a 24/7 community center focused on the art of film and is an incredible opportunity to expand our mission of educational outreach. Particularly important to SBIFF is making available high quality learning opportunities for underserved and vulnerable populations. Our programs and reach are more robust than ever before.


"Pasang: in the shadow of Everest" beautiful story of the first Nepali, woman to climb the Everest - SBIFF Interview


SBIFF 2022

Interview by Emmanuel Itier with director Nancy Svendsen, Pasang’s daughter Dawa Futi Sherpa and Nepali Mountain climber Dawa Yangzum Sherpa.


Q: What inspired this film and what were you trying to explore with it?


Nancy: I knew about the exploit of Pasang, this amazing, first Nepali, woman to climb the summit of Mount Everest. This was an inspiring woman, full of courage. It is a universal story for our times and for all women. It is the story of an unlikely hero. And I felt close to this story from the beginning because it was told to me by my brother-in-law. There was a personal connection that helped me understand who she truly was. I was also impressed by this woman, an indigenous Buddhist woman, who had very little rights and who faced so many obstacles to make her dream come true. But, with persistence, force, and courage, she managed to make it!


Dawa : My mother was such a daring woman for her time. I really hope this movie inspires young woman around the world and I’m looking forward to showing the movie in Nepal.


Yangzum: I came late in the project but I had always been inspired by Pasang and I hope this was my way to thank her with my participation to this very compelling picture.


Q: What challenges did you face making this film?


Nancy: Beyond the funding, which was difficult, the biggest challenge was to find images, b roll of films about her. She came from a small and poor village. They didn’t have any camera so there isn’t any footage of her when she was young. It was quite a challenge, also, to find the right moving archives, the photos, in various formats and to put a film together. The family of Pasang gave me everything they had, and this was so helpful. It was like assembling a very complicated puzzle.  Also, I went three times to Nepal to film over there and build a relationship with the family. It was quite intense and hard to film over there. I wanted to talk with everyone I could find who had met her and it wasn’t such an easy task. It took me 10 years to complete this film and I really hope people enjoy this amazing journey.



Q: What do you hope people take from watching your documentary?


Yangzum: I really hope women in Nepal and around the world feel empowered. This will be great to know that more women follow in the footsteps of Pasang. She is truly a notional hero.


Nancy: I hope they learn more about this amazing woman who was an inspirational leader at a time when change wasn’t an obvious given. It’s a true woman empowerment story. I hope it shows that you cannot give up on your dreams and that you have to fight to make them come true.


Dawa: This movie shows you can never give up on your dreams. You can make it if you keep going and if you keep being courageous. I really hope it inspires young women to do as my mother did, reach out to their dreams and make them come true.


Q: Tell me about the joy of being in Santa Barbara.


Nancy: It was a real surprise to be at the film festival in Santa Barbara and we are so honored to be here. We hope the movie is well received and that we can pursue on with the film festivals circuit. The movie has been accepted in other festivals and we can’t wait to show this film all around the world.

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The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has star wattage and a wealth of premieres in a Mediterrean-style city by the sea.

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The team of editors of the The Santa Barbara Blog:
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