Benefit Nepal Film Festival

Over $11k Raised for Earthquake Recovery Aid in Nepal

The Benefit Nepal Film Festival on June 15 presented ten works filmed in Nepal, and including ticket sales, raffle ticket revenues, onsite donations and online donations, has raised over $11,000 to be distributed to three grassroots aid organizations in Nepal: Drokpa, GMIN, and Karuna-Schechen.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Benefit Nepal Film Festival fundraising event, and to those who made additional donations, for your generous and ongoing support. We are pleased to report that each of the three beneficiary organizations will receive $3,918. In addition, we are delighted to hear that our friends at Seva Foundation are considering each for additional support from them.

For ongoing reports of the recovery efforts in Nepal there is a new Nepal Recovery webpage.

We are no longer able to accept donations on behalf of the beneficiaries; we encourage you to please consider donating to them directly online or by mail. The recovery work in Nepal remains just as critical today, with the monsoon season hampering efforts.

95 Stowell Road
Norwich, VT 05055-9652

GMIN (Grassroots Movement in Nepal)
379 Hart Street
Brooklyn, NY, 11206-7020

237 West 35 Street, Suite 1101
New York, NY 10001-1963


The participation of so many wonderful individuals and organizations helped us get the word out so that this event could make a meaningful contribution to the efforts on the ground in Nepal. Your Facebook likes and shares continued to spread the word.

Thank you to everyone who bought a ticket, made a donation or bought a raffle ticket, and to all the co-presenters, in-kind and raffle prize contributors, and of course, the filmmakers, photographers, designer, printer, and all the volunteers.

Please check back as we continue to update this list.

In addition to the individuals below who made donations via our PayPal Donate button, we’d like to thank all those unnamed individuals who made cash donations and/or contributed with their film and raffle ticket purchases.

Jenny Abbe, Leilani Alo, Anonymous, Genevieve Baird, Sara Bender, Richard Benivegna, Toni Brayer, Teresa Bright, Quinn Costello, Alison Davis, Glenn DeMattia, Geoffrey Dunn, Zoe Elton, Karina Epperlein, Rodney Franklin, Scott Frazier, John Fuller, Richard Goldsmith, Keith Goldstein, Great Rift Co., Joanna Hidalgo, John Holland, Sidney J.P. Hollister, Sandra Horwich, Gail Huddleson, Marcia Jarmel, Troy Jones, Lauren Kawana, Nancy Klehr, Tana Lehr, Malinda Lowery, Luna Park Productions, Eve A. Ma, Jeff Mallory, Jeffrey Marino, Christopher McLeod, Eileen Moncoeur, Adele Negro, Osborne Construction, Jaime Pandolfo, Anthony Parrinello, Ann Philis Moskow, Ann Philis Moskow, William Rhine, Michael Rosenthal, Meghan Ryan, Kim Salyer, Melina Selverston-Scher, Richard Severy, Kim Shelton, David Shlim, Alan Snitow, Jeffrey Springer, Lorna Stevens, Augusta Talbot, David Thompson, Theresa Rose Timmes, Lesley Turner, Kathleen Xi, Cheng Yu Zhou

Bhojraj Bhat (Sunakali)
Tad Fettig (Bon: Mustang to Menri)
Pema Gellek (Light of the Valley)
Amitabha Joshi (Tashi’s Turbine)
Jonah Kessel (Brick By Brick)
Lucian and Natasa Muntean (video of the day after; Journey of A Red Fridge)
Renan Ozturk and Freddie Wilkinson (The Rinpoche Speaks)
Will Parrinello (Origins and Mustang—Journey of Transformation)
Leanne Pooley and Matthew Metcalf (Beyond the Edge)
Kesang Tseten (We Corner People and video intro)
Eric Valli (Himalaya)

Guest Hosts and Speakers
Jeff Greenwald
Wes Nisker
Jack Blanks, Seva Foundation
Norbu Tenzing, American Himalayan Foundation

Buddhist Film Foundation, organizing co-presenter
California Film Institute, host co-presenter
Alive Mind Cinema
Berkeley FILM Foundation
Center for Asian American Media
Ethical Traveler
Guna Foundation
Himalayan Fair
Himalayan Film Festival (Sahayeta)
Kino Lorber
Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International
Seva Foundation
Sundance Selects
Telluride MountainFilm
Wilderness Travel

with special salute to the efforts of:
Bob Baldock, KPFA
Barbara Banks, Wilderness Travel
David Bergad, Berkeley FILM Foundation
Gregg Butensky, Ethical Traveler
Wangmo Dixey, Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International
Stephen Gong, CAAM
Amisha Hada, Sahayeta/Himalayan Film Festival
David Holbrooke, Telluride MountainFilm
Zach Pughe-Sanford, Alive Mind Cinema
Kim Kalyka, Sundance Selects/IFC Films
Masashi Miwano, CAAM
Elizabeth Sheldon, Alive Mind Cinema/Kino Lorber
Aaron Simon, Seva Foundation

California Film Institute/Smith Rafael Film Center
Mark Fishkin
Richard Peterson
Dan Zastrow
Tim Fross
Shelley Spicer
Brian Lehman
Courtney Buffington
Theater and box office staff at SRFC

Raffle Prize Donors
The Campbell Family
Chez Panisse
Couteau Wines
FarmShop, Marin
Gary Klehr Design
Martha Stewart Living
The North Face
Patagonia Environmental Giving
Pennzoil 10 Oil Change (Marin and San Francisco)
Vasco Restaurant, Mill Valley

A/M Studios
MSI Litho, Mike Scevola (poster prints)

Jon Kaplan
Vassi Koutsaftis, Arclight Pictures
Brian McGilloway
Matthieu Ricard
John Sanday
Peter Takeuchi

Ayelet Maida
Gaetano Kazuo Maida
Will Parrinello, Mill Valley Film Group
Jeff Roe
Sharon Roe

Graham Deneen, Sarah Evers, Marcia Fields, Elizabeth Gress, Sarah Kass, Gary Klehr, Kate Littleboy, Angela Parrinello, Rick Sparks, Lauri Tanner


This special day-long film festival to raise attention and funds for ongoing grassroots earthquake recovery aid in Nepal, took place on June 15 at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, California. Presented by a group of concerned organizations, Benefit Nepal Film Festival featured three programs of films from or about Nepal with special guests in person for introduction and talks including author/performer/meditation teacher Wes Nisker; vice president of the American Himalayan Foundation, Norbu Tenzing; and author/performer Jeff Greenwald. Raffles at each screening included donated prizes from over a dozen supporters.

“As soon as we understood the extent of the disaster, our first call was to the folks at The Rafael,” says Gaetano Kazuo Maida, executive director of Buddhist Film Foundation, the organizing co-presenter. “They generously offered their Theater One for this benefit. All the filmmakers and distributors enthusiastically agreed to participate, and all are donating their works. The films vividly demonstrate the beauty of Nepal and the vitality and diversity of its people… it’s not just abstract any more.”

Award-winning local filmmaker Will Parrinello has been a key organizer of the event. His many years of working in the Himalayas established him as part of a strong network of NGOs, filmmakers, climbers, and aid workers. “I have many friends in Nepal and I was getting heartbreaking reports of the earthquake’s devastation, especially in the rural areas,” Parrinello says. “I immediately knew we could do something here in the Bay Area, which has a special connection with the Himalayas, to help.”

“100% of the proceeds goes to grassroots recovery aid in Nepal,” says Mr. Maida. The beneficiary organizations were selected very carefully. “We reached out for advice to our friends and colleagues on the ground in Nepal, and Drokpa, GMIN (Grassroots Movement in Nepal), and Karuna-Shechen were chosen based on their effective work, their transparency and their long term commitment to full recovery in Nepal.”

Other co-presenters include Alive Mind Cinema, Berkeley FILM Foundation, California Film Institute, Center for Asian American Media, Ethical Traveler, Guna Foundation, Himalayan Fair, Himalayan Film Festival, Kino Lorber, KPFA, Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International, Seva Foundation, Sundance Selects, Telluride MountainFilm and Wilderness Travel.


Highlights include the US PREMIERE of the remastered Academy Award-nominated drama, Himalaya, by Eric Valli; the BAY AREA PREMIERE of Beyond the Edge (presented in 3D), about the first climb of Everest, by Leanne Pooley, with Norbu Tenzing, vice president of American Himalayan Foundation and the son of Tenzing Norgay introducing the film and available for Q&A after the screening; plus films from local filmmakers, who will attend, including Mustang—Journey of Transformation, by Will Parrinello, and Light of the Valley, by Pema Gellek.

Updates will be posted here or on the event’s Facebook page.


There will be three programs of films: 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm, and 7:30 pm. Donation for each program is $20; an all-day pass is $50. Tickets are available online at Tickets can also be purchased at the Smith Rafael Film Center box office Monday–Thursday: 6:00–9:00 pm, Friday: 4:00–9:00 pm, and Saturday and Sunday: 2:00–9:00 pm; 415.454.1222 info-line for showtimes, 415.454.5813 main office.


Directed by Eric Valli

[weathered older man sits with arm around young scruffy boy with mountainous landscape in back]This is the US premiere of the remastered Academy Award nominee filmed on location in once-forbidden Dolpo, the first dramatic film made in Nepal nominated. The story follows a Tibetan caravan as it journeys overland to trade salt for grain, a centuries-old tradition. A rivalry splits the caravan between an old chieftain and the younger Karma, and danger challenges them all at altitudes over 5000 meters.

Directed by Will Parrinello
In Person: Director Will Parrinello

[elderly woman with weathered skin and hands at her mouth looks to camera]Many things emerged from the energies of the ’60s and ’70s, and one enduring and effective institution is Seva Foundation, based in Berkeley, devoted to compassion in action. With a grant from Steve Jobs, founders included Ram Dass, Larry Brilliant, Wavy Gravy and Jahanara Romney, and when Dr. G. Venkataswamy joined, they launched Seva’s Sight Program in Nepal and India, which has now helped nearly 3.5mm (!) people around the world to see again. This crisply designed film captures the flavor and fervor of the founders and the institution, with music from some of the famous annual Seva concerts by The Grateful Dead; Bonnie Rait; Jackson Browne; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Elvis Costello and others. “Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world… the secret to happiness is helping others.”

plus other works


Light of the Valley
Directed by Pema Gellek
In Person: Director Pema Gellek

[gold covered stupa with painted face on each side of top, draped with red and gold banner]The Swayambhu Stupa has been a landmark in the Kathmandu Valley for centuries. This film captures the extraordinary efforts to restore it. Tellingly, it substantially withstood the recent earthquakes.



Mustang—Journey of Transformation
Directed by Will Parrinello
In Person: Director Will Parrinello

[blurry image of brightly costumed men]Narrated by Richard Gere, this was beautifully filmed on location in the Mustang region, documenting reconstruction and art restoration efforts at the center of cultural renewal there.



We Corner People
Directed by Kesang Tseten
Live via Skype: Directed by Kesang Tseten

[figure with three children running across a lightweight bridge suspended over a misty verdant landscape with running river]Self-described “corner people” live on the margins in Nepal, a rural subsistence always at risk of the nearby river. Will all the villagers pull together to build a bridge?



plus other works


Beyond the Edge — in 3D
Directed by Leanne Pooley

[two small figures climbing a massive snow faced mountain with deep blue sky and shadows]Norbu Tenzing, vice president of American Himalayan Foundation and the son of Tenzing Norgay (who made the first ascent of Everest, with Sir Edmund Hillary), will introduce the film. He participated in the film as a narrator and will join us for a Q&A moderated by Jeff Greenwald, after the screening.

The first climbers to successfully summit Mt. Everest were New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, in 1953, climbing from the Nepal side. It was an event that stunned the world and defined an era. Using extraordinary archival footage, skillful reenactments and compelling interviews of participants, this panoramic film, presented in 3D, takes us inside the minds of the heroic team as they struggle up to the top of the world.

The Rinpoche Speaks
Directed by Renan Ozturk and Freddie Wilkinson

[vast snow capped peaks amidst misty clouds]“We worship mountains… If we want peace, we have to reduce our greed.” Ngawang Tenzin Norbu, the reincarnation of Tengboche Rinpoche, spiritual leader of the Sherpa people (who was killed in the 1934 Nepal earthquake), spoke these words two months before the recent earthquake. This concise short uses stunning aerial cinematography in the Himalayas as a backdrop to his frank and inspired message.

plus other works