Ladakh, or 'Little Tibet', is a wildly beautiful desert land high in the Western Himalayas. It is a place of few resources and an extreme climate. Yet for more than 1,000 years, it has been home to a thriving culture. Traditions of frugality and cooperation, with an intimate and location-specific knowledge of the environment, enabled the Ladakhis not only to survive, but to prosper.
Then came "development". Now in Leh, the capital, one finds pollution and divisiveness, inflation and unemployment, intolerance and greed. Centuries of ecological balance and social harmony are under threat from modernization.
Ancient Futures is much more than a film about Ladakh. The breakdown of Ladakh's culture and environment forces us to re-examine what we really mean by "progress" – not only in the 'developing' parts of the world, but in the industrialized world as well. The story of Ladakh teaches us about the root causes of environmental, social and psychological problems, and provides valuable guidelines for our own future.