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Himalaya: Popcorn, Chai and Breathtaking Films

By Steffi Burgi

On April 30th we at Himalayan Life had our first ever Drive-in Film Festival in Yarrow, BC. The Film Festival called Himalaya, showcased multiple short films by different filmmakers that highlighted the beauty of Nepal, its people and culture. When we arrived in Yarrow in the early afternoon, there was already a sign with a Himalaya poster on the main road pointing to the local community centre. Within an hour, the fanciest portable washrooms I have ever seen arrived at the location and the Fresh Air Cinema crew came to set up a huge 40-foot screen. The screen looked like a bouncy castle being inflated and I was tempted to sit on the top and jump onto the lower half just before it popped open! A stage out of scaffolding was built and slowly the large grass field started to really look like the venue for a drive-in.

In the early evening, a group of volunteers came to prepare Chai tea and a large kettle popcorn machine was brought on its own trailer. I am proud to say that I was one of the official Chai tea testers – it was fantastic! One could sense a nervousness in the volunteers as none of us were sure what to expect and we wanted the event to run smoothly.

We had just about finished setting up when the first cars drove through the entrance, which was decorated beautifully with prayer flags and lights. The cars were directed to drive up to our volunteers who warmly welcomed them and gave them a participant bag filled with information about the event and sponsorship items. Then, they were promptly offered some Chai tea and freshly popped kettle corn. I was part of the welcoming crew and it was an awesome atmosphere as the cars were shuttled through the line of volunteers and people were welcomed to the event. Many people remarked how this was their first event since the beginning of the pandemic and the excitement was palpable in the air. As the cars continued driving in, the Fresh Air Cinema crew directed them to their viewing spot. 

At dusk, the show began. It was awesome how engaged people were; flashing their lights and honking their horns in response to the questions asked by the MCs. Seeing the breathtaking films about Nepal and India on the massive screen was incredible, and many voiced the sentiment that after the pandemic, they hope to hop on the first flight to Nepal. It was awesome to observe people get excited and grow passionate about a country and a charity that I also love. 

Each time I see the films, I am reminded that one person, one organization, can truly make a difference and I once again become inspired by Himalayan Life and the people it serves.

Photos courtesy of Misti Hurst