Mountaineering films are thrilling, no doubt. But too often, outside of paying occasional lip service to the plight of the impoverished country that hosts the high peaks and maybe sharing tea with a few destitute natives, the movies are really about personal glory and conquest. Very rarely are mountaineering films actually about something.
Blindsight is different. Lucy Walker's incredible documentary follows Erik Weihenmayer's quest to lead a group of blind Tibetan kids up to the summit of 23,000-foot Lhakpa Ri, a peak adjacent to Everest. As the only blind person to climb Everest, Weihenmayer knows what lies ahead, but that doesn't mean it's going to be any easier. The film becomes more than a take-no-prisoners race to the summit, and instead flowers into a full exploration of wilderness adversity, East vs. West culture clash, and a touching portrait of shunned youth reaching deep to use the inner strength they've always possessed. In Tibet, blindness is often attributed to demonic possession or atonement for unseen sins — what more can a little ol' mountain do?
A lot, of course. But we won't spoil it for you. Here's the trailer:
Accomplished adventure filmmaker and Backpacker adviser Michael Brown helped shoot the film with his Serac Adventure Films, so adrenaline junkies are guaranteed to get their fill of thrills and eye-popping scenery.
BlindSight has been in limited release since early March, but it opens wide across the country starting this weekend. For release dates and show times near you, check here. — Ted Alvarez