Description from TIFF 2006 catalog by Thom Powers:

Erik Weihenmayer accomplished the unthinkable when he climbed to the peak of Mount Everest despite being blind. His daring especially impressed Sabriye Tenberken, a blind educator and adventurer who established the first school for the blind in Lhasa. She invited Weihenmayer to meet her teenaged students. Next to her accomplishments, he said he felt like a coward.

Together they concocted a plan of astonishing courage “~ or insanity, depending on your point of view “~ to lead six of the blind teenagers on an ascent up the 23,000-foot Lhakpa Ri peak on the north side of Everest. Director Lucy Walker went along for this harrowing and inspiring journey, joined by a team of skilled cinematographers.

Set against breathtaking landscapes, the film interweaves the back stories of the climbers. Many Tibetans consider blindness a stigma, a sign of demons or punishment for transgressions in past lives. Before Tenberken started educating them, many of the kids had been shunned by their families. In one dramatic case, Tashi was sold by his father and forced to beg. Another student, Kyila, was told by an aunt she would be better off dead than blind. But she gained the opportunity to study abroad through her training at Tenberken~s school.

The trek up Everest starts lighthearted as the team sings The Turtles~ song “Happy Together.” But extraordinary challenges soon arise, compounded by the teenagers~ lack of sight or climbing experience. A gap emerges
between the strong and the weak. Will this turn out to be an empowering experience or one that divides the school~s unity? The Western guides debate among themselves whether it matters that they reach the peak.
In altitudes where the lack of oxygen can impair judgment, a wrong choice can mean the difference between life and death.

Blindsight blends incredible suspense with complex character studies and gorgeous photography. The ambition and guts of everyone involved are a wonder to behold. They have something to teach: you~re capable of more than you think.

About the director:
Lucy Walker grew up in London. She studied literature at Oxford University, where she also wrote and directed theatre. She received an M.F.A. from New York University~s graduate film programme. She directed Devil~s Playground (02), a documentary dealing with the struggles of Amish teenagers, and has directed television commercials, music videos and three award-winning shorts. Blindsight (06) is her most recent film. She is blind in one eye.

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