Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

Cave in the Snow 2002

Directed by Liz Thompson

52 minutes Beta-SP

Director, Screenplay


Ellenor Cox


Joanne Parker
Liz Thompson


Stewart Young


Felicity Fox


Tenzin Palmo
Dalai Lama


A spiritual quester whose common sense is manifest in an irresistible grin, the British-born Tibetan Buddhist nun Tenzin Palmo is the subject of this inspiring portrait. The daughter of a London fishmonger, she went to India in pursuit of ‘perfection’ and met her guru Khamtrul Rinpoche in 1964, becoming one of the first western Tibetan Buddhist nuns. In 1976 she isolated herself for 12 years in a remote Himalayan cave to deepen her meditation practice. Here she faced extreme cold, wild animals, near-starvation and avalanches; grew her own food and slept in a traditional wooden meditation box. Her isolation, peremptorily ended by the immigration authorities, is documented by Vicki McKenzie in a well-known book which has brought Tenzin Palmo international admiration. Fame simultaneously embarrasses her and provides a platform for her campaign to raise the education and status of women in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. She has set herself an imposing task, but the forthright and tirelessly good-humoured Tenzin Palmo is unstoppable: she hesitates only momentarily before putting the Dalai Lama himself on the spot. — BG