Laurent's passion is film. This year, the filmmaker accompanied the Janma delegation to the Himalayas for the second time.
Laurent, this is the second time you have travelled to Nepal with Janma. What motivated you to pack your camera for Janma again?
I have known Rolf and Rob for over 10 years now. What began as a business relationship has developed over the years into a friendship that goes far beyond collaboration on projects. If you can combine the two, i.e. cultivate the friendship, create shared experiences or moments and achieve something valuable and sustainable at the same time, the answer is obvious. The positive memories of my first visit and the certain "magic" that hovers in the Himalayas were all the more motivating for me to travel to Napal again and experience the progress of the project and the region for myself.
As well as filming in and around the hospital, you also took part in some of the Janma team's visits to families in their homes. How did you experience these encounters?
Anyone who has ever been to Nepal knows what it's like. The people in the Himalayas and especially the Sherpas are very hospitable. Well, perhaps that's a cliché you hear from everyone who talks about travelling to faraway countries. But when the family opens the door to their home, puts on a fresh cup of tea and the children happily surround you, then that is something extraordinary and very warm. What impresses me most is the simplicity with which the Sherpas have to get by and, it seems to me, know how to do this very well. Humility and trust in people is certainly a quality that we "Westerners" can learn from them.
Was there a moment during filming that you remember particularly fondly?
Hmm, difficult question (Laurent, with a smile and a gleam in his eye)... there are so many great memories that leave a lasting impression! When we arrived in Lukla in 2018, Passang Lhamu told us that there was a birth in progress and that we were welcome to record it on film. Well, a birth is something very intimate and personal, and that applies equally all over the world. Accordingly, it was also a special situation for me, which I've certainly never had before as a filmmaker. Another situation was at school, when I took a group photo with the drone and the whole school gathered in the courtyard. When I landed, I felt like I was surrounded by a hundred children who all wanted just one thing: to touch the magical celestial body - but maybe they just wanted to fly around a bit themselves... (Laurent laughs)
You are responsible for the new Janma film. What do you want to say with this film or what was particularly important to you?
I always say that a film is made three times. The first time when you write the concept, the second time on location when filming and the third time when everything comes together in the edit. That was also the case here. I had defined the themes and the text in advance, the plan was set. But as it goes, not everything can always be planned and so you have to respond to the changes on location and adapt the plan. But the goal was clear: I wanted to record the work of the Janma team on site and give people back home in Switzerland an idea of what it looks like on the ground and how the work goes far beyond simply transferring money. I think a film is the perfect complement to the emotional photos that Rob took on site. For me, the film is a reflection of what I experienced and should show that the work of the Janma Children's Education Fund is right and important for the Sherpa community.