Mustang~Journey of Transformation

Ever have a friend whose talent, adventures and pure productivity takes your breath away? Who always has a story that leaves you in awe? Who inspires you to reach just a little deeper into your own creative toolbox?

imagesWe’ve known Will Parrinello for over 30 years. He was a “radio guy”  when we were all students (we were newspaper folk) in Chico in the 70’s. He’s one half of Mill Valley Film Group, along with his partner John Antonelli. Their films all have a spirit of curiosity, adventure, creativity and inspiration, and it’s been a thrill to watch them (the filmmakers and the films) over the years. Will’s latest film, Mustang—Journey of Transformation, premiered at the Aspen Short Film Festival earlier this month. And now it’s headed to NY to screen in competition  at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival on April 27. Tribeca was started by Robert De Niro and his producing partner Jane Rosenthal in the wake of 9/11.

Mustang – Journey of Transformation tells the story of the Himalayan Kingdom of Mustang, a Tibetan culture saved from extinction through the restoration of its most sacred sites. It is narrated by Richard Gere and is truly inspirational. Mustang lies on a windswept plateau between Nepal and Tibet in one of the most remote regions in the world. Isolated by both geography and politics, Mustang–known as the Forbidden Kingdom–has been completely off- limits to westerners for 50 years. This starkly beautiful place is home to one of the last surviving repositories of Tibetan sacred art from the 15th century. In 1991 Nepal opened Mustang’s border to the outside world.

What the first visitors found was shocking: the ancient monasteries were on the verge of collapse; the Buddhist wall paintings were disintegrating; the community was deeply impoverished. The people needed health care, education, and jobs. Surprisingly, the King’s first plea to outsiders offering help was to save the monasteries. The King understood… saving the art would save the people, because without cultural identity there is nothing. Mustang -Journey of Transformation is a tale of hope and rebirth told by the people who helped save the Forbidden Kingdom.


Restoring Mandala by J. Sanday

Will describes my favorite character in the film, Luigi, the Italian art restorer. “Luigi Fieni is the head art conservator on the Mustang restoration project. Luigi is like a beacon of light, and his energy jumps off the screen. Through his work in Mustang, Luigi has become, what I call a guileless Bodhisattva… through his open heart – we met dozens of his Loba friends. You have to see Luigi in Mustang – because he’s like the Pied Piper – everywhere he goes young men and women… and more women, come running to greet him. He’s universally loved for the great work he’s done, for his generosity as a skilled teacher and for the professional knowledge he’s shared with the Lobas, and for his amazing spirit.”

Interesting. I think Will’s energy and spirit are pretty amazing, too.

Please keep your eyes open for this film at your local film festival. And if you’re in NY, please consider attending one of the Tribeca screenings (April 27, 30, May 1 and 3). Then find Will and tell him you’re a friend of mine. I guarantee you’ll become a friend of his.

To learn more about this region and the people , check out the American Himalayan Foundation.


6 Responses to “Mustang~Journey of Transformation”

  1. 1 andrea April 22, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing this with us, dear Kim. Wow… I can’t wait to see this beautiful documentary!

  2. 2 Maureen Drdak April 24, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    i think this file with Gere and Fieni is fantastic-though I’ve just learned of it! I want the readers to also now of another hit collaborative involving Lo Monthang Mustang premiered this March 6th to standing room only-that of LUNGTA the Windhorse, commissioned by Network for New Music. Composer Andrea Clearfield and artist Maureen Drdak (that’s me) traveled to remote Lo for the purposes of a joint chamberwork and painting triptych, which premiered to great reviews….! any questions-just google LUNGTA-the WINDHORSE-or visit

    We are looking for additional performance venues. Further, an article on LUNGTA appears on the Global Spiral e-publications and will also shortly appear on additional video on YouTube!


    PS_Luigi Fieni is a fantastic restorer and a mutual friend!

  3. 3 Lisa Takeuchi May 2, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    The film sounds amazing. I’ve invited some Nepali friends to the screening at the Asian Art Museum. Yay Will!

  1. 1 Inside Tribeca | Will’s Mustang film in NY « re:design Trackback on April 29, 2009 at 1:49 pm
  2. 2 Friday’s Tribeca/Mustang Update « re:design Trackback on May 1, 2009 at 7:13 pm
  3. 3 American Masters, Sam Cooke and my friend, John Antonelli « re:design Trackback on January 10, 2010 at 8:16 pm

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