“Blindsight” is an outstanding documentary with an extraordinary premise. Set in Tibet, the film focuses on several students from Braille Without Borders, the first and only school for the blind in Tibet which was founded by Sabriye Tenberken, a German born social worker who is also blind. When Sabriye invites mountain climber Erick Weihenmayer – the only blind man to reach the summit of Mt. Everest (over 29,000 feet!) – to visit her school, Weihenmayer asks if he could take six students on an expedition up the 23,000 foot Lhakpari summit, which is on the north side of Mt. Everest.
With permission granted by the students’ parents, Weihenmayer – along with a team doctor and several guides – prepare the students for a potentially dangerous and deadly journey. Beginning their ascent at 13,500 feet, the gruelling trek becomes too much for some to handle as the air gets thinner and the terrain much more unpredictable. Conflicts ensue between the guides who wish to press on to the end, and the teachers who feel that the climb will be too much for their students.
Throughout the film, director Lucy Walker introduces the viewer to the six students who are apart of the expedition. They are all remarkable people who - before Sabriye came to their rescue – were considered to obsolete, and were viewed by many Tibetans as sinners or demons who did something terrible in their past lives. Because of this, they are more than willing to prove their worth with the expedition besides the huge risks involved.
A main point of focus for Walker is the story of Tashi, a 19 student from China who was sold by his parents at a young age. He was constantly tortured and then left to fend for himself on the streets of Tibet. A reunion with his parents (who he had not seen in 8 years) is a discomforting and sad scene.
Along with its strong emotional pull and engrossing personalities, “Blindsight” also features some breath taking images of the Himalayas, and some nerve wrecking scenes that would make does of us who are afraid of heights to start sweating bullets. “Blindsight” is a superb and inspirational film.