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Himalayan laurels for a storyteller

He is an Indian documentary filmmaker from the Union Territory of Ladakh and is winning hearts and a dedicated audience globally. Stanzin Dorjai is today a representative of India on global platforms with his unique high altitude filming techniques. His film ‘The Shepherdess of the Glaciers’ has won many international awards. The work depicts the real life story of Stanzin’s elder sister and presents to the world a glimpse of the harsh life which people of higher Himalayan ranges fight all through the year. 

“My childhood can be best termed semi-nomadic. I had to spend half of the year along with the family tending the herd of yaks and goats. For almost six months we used to be at our house in our remote village of Gya around 60 km away from Ladakh town. Those were the months when I could go to school and get an education,” says Stanzin Dorjai. 

Struggling to gather time for education, young Dorjai failed in his secondary school examination but that was not his end of education. He joined the SECMOL school founded by educationist Sonam Wangchuk and pursued his classes along with his interest towards film study. The school was formed as part of the efforts by a group of young Ladakhis who understood the problems of the younger generation of the region and wanted to help them pursue their talents. The place gave a perfect abode for young Dorjai to sharpen his skills of storytelling and learning the techniques of film making. 

His plans of using the visual medium to tell the story of the village to the outside world slowly started materialising. After his graduation from Jammu University,  Dorjai first produced the film Tsondus. In 2006, he founded the Himalayan Film House in Leh which later became a hub of film production and creative learning for the region.

Dorjai shot to national fame when he was chosen as the Youth Icon by the Election Commission of India during the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. 

Stanzin Dorjai has today produced a number of documentaries as well as feature films and has worked with several national and international film makers. His films win international acclaim and laurels for visual media techniques of working in high altitude conditions. He is renowned today in the international filmmaking community as a master of his art. 

`Living With Change’ a documentary on the effects of global warming in Ladakh by Stanzin Dorjai made for WWF India earned worldwide appreciation and his film was screened in festivals and screens in various countries.

“I tell the story of my place to the world with the help of the camera. It was never told before. I am glad that the global audience is liking it and the films are helping to let the world know about Ladakh,” says Dorjai. 

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