Director: Jennifer Peedom

Rating: A

If anyone you know doesn’t know what white privilege is, or is too ignorant to even try to understand, all they need to do is watch Sherpa and everything around the concept will become abundantly clear. If not, you need to disassociate yourself from them ASAP.

Sherpa is a documentary directed by director Jennifer Peedom and explores the industry in Nepal around Westerners climbing Everest and the politics around Western mountaineers and the relationship between the Sherpa and Nepalese people, focusing particularly on feeding the largest tourism industry in Nepal. The Khumbu icefall is the most dangerous part of Everest and is becoming increasingly precarious due to climate change, and the Sherpa often have to navigate this part of the mountain at night, up to 20 times. The film also highlights the tragic events of the 2014 ice avalanche disaster which killed 16 Nepalese in the Khumbu icefall. 

The Sherpa get paid only enough to feed their families for the year, with 70 percent of profits going to the Nepal government. With these facts in mind, I was becoming increasingly frustrated at the utter bullshit around the industry, especially with the resounding voices of white people, waffling on about how they feel a “spiritual connection” and also love to “celebrate the beautiful Nepalese people” and the “Buddhism and stuff around it”. 

So why don’t these people get equally passionate when a revolution is sparked within the Nepalese to change the politics surrounding the tourism and the industry? Health and safety and payments for their family? Respect for the 16 Sherpa who died? No, none of that matters because they are upset that they don’t get to climb Everest which is a “life long” dream of theirs. The entitlement is totally justified because the Western tour guides will get in trouble. Sigh.

Breathtaking shots of Everest and a very forward approach to raising awareness of the injustice surrounding this industry make this a fantastic documentary. A frustrating but very worthwhile watch.

This article first appeared in Issue 8, 2016.
Posted 12:41pm Sunday 24th April 2016 by Lisa Blakie.