Jane Lillian Vance

"a boat. a bridge. a lamp."

A Gift for the Village


Jane Lillian Vance
Jenna Swann
Tom Landon, Lucky Dog Productions
Lisa Mullins, Public Radio International’s the World, produced by WGBH in Boston
2011 Virginia Indie Film Awards
Best Documentary
People’s Choice: Documentary
2011 Honolulu Film Awards
Golden Kahuna: Documentary
2011-12 South Arts Tour of Independent Film Makers
Selected for the Southern Circuit Tour: March 17-25, 2012


In June of 2007, seven friends traveled from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia to Jomsom village in the Mustang district of western Nepal to deliver a painting by artist Jane Lillian Vance about Amchi Tsampa Ngawang Lama, a Tibetan amchi-lama-doctor and mind-healer. Jane Vance is the first woman and first westerner granted permission to produce such a piece.

A Gift for the Village is the culmination of years of friendship and collaboration between this prominent Buddhist lama and an American painter and teacher. In the film, a large oil painting – titled Amchi — is removed from its stretchers and escorted across the globe and is offered as a gift to a village in the western Himalayan mountains of Nepal. The team was welcomed with an elaborate festival — sanctioned by the Dalai Lama — celebrating the artist, the work and the man it honors. A Gift for the Village documents the remarkable story of their trip — offering unprecedented access to a vanishing tradition.

The project began in 1999 when Vance met teacher, Jenna Swann and began a travel partnership and project collaboration, resulting in their award-winning documentary, Into Nepal. In the winter of 2000, accompanied by their friend Amchi Tsampa Ngawang Lama, Vance and Swann crossed an 18,000-foot Himalayan pass in a snowstorm during a month-long trek in Nepal’s Annapurna region. It was during this trek that Tsampa, Swann, and Vance planned Tsampa’s first visit to America where he would later live for 6 months at Vance’s home studying and teaching together in Blacksburg, Virginia. During these months the Buddhist lama agreed to have Jane create the Amchi portrait. The friendship between Vance, Swann and Tsampa would soon include Tom Landon and journey of this painting would become the documentary film: A Gift for the Village.

Public Radio’s Lisa Mullins narrates this story about a cultural bridge constructed over a decade between the homes of Amchi Tsampa Ngawang Lama in Nepal and Jane Lillian Vance in Virginia. The film chronicles the bond of friendship that spans two cultures through celebration and through mourning as the American film team reeled in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech campus shootings in 2007.