Saturday, June 18, 2016

PANI (WATER) now on Youtube

Here's the link to PANI (Water), my 2000 documentary, now on Youtube.

I was fresh out of Brown University and influenced by Trinh T. Minh-ha when I shot this film.

I was interested in contradictions and ambiguity.

I was interested in incoherence, and what it may tell us about "community" and "participation."


I apologize for the quality of the video. This is digitized from A VHS copy held at Stanford Library.

Thank you, library and librarians!

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Learning with film

Students at the University of Washington Bothell just discussed my documentary "Burma on My Mind" and fiction short "The Escape" as part of their assignment.

The student making the request to screen the documentary says: "This is the last assignment in my BISS 466 "Human Rights and Resistance" class (focus on social topics in South Asia). A presentation is about "a South Asian film director who engages with issues of gender and human rights in South Asia or within its diaspora". My group chose you as a film director that we want to research on. Thanks so much for your help." 

Saturday, March 07, 2015

March 9th: Supportive Men at AFK

I showed "Supportive Men" at the Alliance Francaise de Kathmandu on March 9th, 2015, for Women's Day. The students were very enthusiastic to see it and there were lots of questions about it. I got the feeling that urban students would really benefit from implementing the gender equality training as well as trainings for men in cooking and housework in their curriculum!

AFK's website:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Handigaon is the oldest inhabited settlement of the
Kathmandu Valley. A jatra is a festival involving music, devotional
worship, agricultural rituals, and alcohol. "There are no jatras like
those of Handigaon," is a saying that has become synonymous with the
excessive celebratory rites and rituals associated with this
neighborhood. Throughout the year, I can hear beautiful traditional
music being played at night as people go about the festivities, and on a
full moon night in autumn this sound can be especially soulful and
evocative. Here's one of those, which I shot in my neighborhood with my
small digital camera. This photoshow attempts to capture the mixture of
mystery and mundaneness of the festivals. With apologies for not
including the original music, which I shall do very shortly, as soon as I
get hold of some good sound recording equipment...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Supportive Men: the documentary

In Nepal, men and women are involved in various ways to shift norms and relationships toward gender equality. This documentary focuses on one community in Kapilvastu, Southern Nepal, to show how men and couples are changing the way they interact with one another to bring about social change, and also how men are supporting women’s movement for empowerment and gender equality.  


Mr. Dube is a young man in his late twenties who lives in Kapilvastu, Nepal. He has taken part in a gender equality training given by a local NGO, in partnership with an INGO. He is married and has two sons. In his small community, Mr. Dube has become an inspirational figure who has managed to change the behavior of not just the younger men, but also the older men of his community, who now cook, help with housework and childcare, and support  their spouses in a way that was unthinkable even a few years ago. Persuading the men to change their behavior takes a lot of work, but Mr. Dube is not willing to give up, despite the difficulties and suspicions of a small community. Clearly its a happier community, with new changes!

I shot this documentary in May 2014.

 Watch it online on YouTube:

Here is the CARE website with the documentary:

Director: Sushma Joshi

Camera: Jeevan Shrestha

Assistant camera: Manoj Subedi

Post-production co-ordination: Rebina and Biswas Bajracharya

Editor: Bijan Bajracharya

Funded by CARE Nepal, CARE USA, CARE Austria, CARE Norway

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Water for the Ages: a listing of water related films

Water for the Ages is an interesting clearinghouse website for water and sanitation related issues. It includes films, books, art, organizations and a water related calendar.

It has a thoughtful collection of water films listed at its film page. My film PANI is listed along with 50 others--the films include both longform documentary as well as short films.

You can find the film page here:

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Berlinale Talent Campus is now the Berlinale Talents

Image result for Berlinale bear image

I was a participant at the Berlinale Talent Campus, which is part of the Berlinale cinema festival, in 2007. That program has now been re-named "Berlinale Talents." 

During the festival and campus, I met many filmmakers from all over the world. I also got to see talks by prominent actors, filmmakers and composers like Wim Wenders, Gael Garcia Bernal, Walter Salles, and Jan Kaczmarek.

The program is open to filmmakers from all over the world. If you would like to apply and attend with your film for 2015, click on the bear below! The call for applications for 2014 is already closed, but you can still browse the website and put a note in your calender to check back when the applications re-open.

Image result for Berlinale bear image

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Burma on My Mind shown at Image Ark Gallery, Patan

"Burma on My Mind" screened on Sunday 23rd June to a packed audience at the beautiful Image Ark Gallery, which is located in a historic part of Patan. The gallery is owned and managed by Mary-Ange, a longterm resident of Kathmandu.

Here is their Facebook page.
Page of event.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Burma on My Mind" in the 3rd Nepal-Africa Film Festival

The ever dynamic Manju Mishra, founder of a journalism college in Nepal, co-ordinates a Nepal-Africa film festival. "Burma on My Mind" was shown during the 3rd festival on June 2013.

Rajesh Hamal was a guest speaker at the inauguration! During which he made a wonderfully thoughtful and articulate speech about Nepal's connection with Africa.

For a listing of films, check this page:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Burma on My Mind, directed by Sushma Joshi

“Burma on My Mind” is a journey and pilgrimage through the heart of
Myanmar’s Gorkhali community.

How do Hindus and Buddhists co-exist and live in present day Myanmar?
Where do they go to seek spiritual transcendence?

What conflicts arise in their search for religious identity? And how
can the words of the Buddha provide an answer, and a pathway to peace,
to the faultlines that have sprung up in this tight-knit community?

The documentary is available in its full length form on Youtube. Your feedback is highly appreciated! If you'd like to use the documentary for teaching purposes, please drop me an email at

Click here to see "Burma on My Mind."

I presented the article associated with this documentary
"The Religious Life of the Gorkhalis of Myanmar"
at the conference on religion and diaspora at Oxford University in 2012.
The article will be published in an anthology on religion and dispora, edited by Sondra Hausner and David Gellner, and published by the Oxford University Press, in 2013.

 You can download and read the associated article at smashwords:

Burma on My Mind: A Documentary

I spent a year between 2010-2011 shooting a documentary about the Gorkhali diaspora in Myanmar and Thailand. The documentary looks at a diasporic community deeply entrenched in Burma, both through their history as well as their love for the country.

It also features the rising tensions between newly converted Gorkhali Theravada practitioners who are pressuring Hindus and Mahayani Buddhists to convert to the state-sanctioned religion. The movement appears more political than religious, and it is also new. Religion was one domain that was untouched by the state from the Sixties till very recently, allowing people to continue to worship in their own manner, undisturbed.

Burma's rising intolerance regarding religious freedom is disturbing from many vantage points,  not the least of which is that the teachings of the Buddha always regards non-violence (ahimsa) as its central tenet. Pressurizing those from other sects or religions to adopt the state religion goes against everything the Buddha taught.

Burma would open up to a more democratic mode of governance shortly after I left the country. Political prisoners were freed, and new newspapers flourished. But that moment also brought the tragedy of the Rohingyas, whose homes and communities were burnt in Rahine state. As Burma shifts from one historical moment to the next, lets hope it will retain the best of what existed inside this beautiful country. The history of religious diversity and freedom is one of its greatest legacies, and I hope that will be nurtured in this new moment.

Click here to view the documentary on Youtube.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


This is a photographic record of the 90th birthday party of a man in my neighborhood. This celebration is known as a "jankhu" by the Newari community. The photographs remind us of the joyful and celebratory aspects of aging.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Erawan Shrine: A cellphone film

Here is a tiny "film" made with cellphone shots I took of the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok. I wanted to work with the limitations of technology, and see what could be done with something as small, mobile and universal as a cellphone.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gai Jatra

Gai Jatra, or "Cow Carnival," is a festival that takes place in
Kathmandu every monsoon. The story goes like this: A queen loses her beloved child and falls into a depression. Her husband takes the help of a holy man, who promises her that if she can get a sesame seed from the home where there's never been a death, the child can be brought back to life. The procession goes through all the homes where there's been a death that year. The queen finally comes out of her grief when she realizes death is inevitable.

Gai Jatra is also characterized by satire of governments and people in high places.

 Sushma Joshi took these photos in 2010. These photos show a very small slice of what was going on in Kathmandu on that day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Nepali Émigré in Paris

A Nepali Émigré in Paris and Water were shown at the 3rd Annual Nepali Film Festival in Vancouver.

A Nepali Emigre in Paris
(2006, 4 min.)
Director: Sushma Joshi
A Nepali man flees political repression in Nepal in the late 1980s as the fight for democracy begins. After living in Paris for 20 years, he has had no reason to look back - until now, when both his loyalty and his love are torn between two sides.

You can see the film on Utube here, by clicking on this link.

Monday, November 09, 2009

UK Nepal Climate Change Film Competition - 3 minutes shorts

We deliberated for about 16 hours and watched 124 shorts before coming up with these results... The film competition was sponsored by DFID and the British Council.

Out of the 126 entries that were received, the following films have been declared winners by the three member jury which consisted of Dr. Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha (writer and conservationist), Sushma Joshi (writer and filmmaker) and Kesang Tseten (writer and filmmaker).

Winning Short Films

Act Locally Think Globally
Santoshi Nepal and Ishu Lama

Shiva Sharan Koirala
1st Runner Up

3 Cs of Climate Change
Binod Kr. Dhami and Padam Raj Paneru
2nd Second Runner Up

Get Your Act Together
Suresh Limbu
Special Mention

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Shooting Climate Change

29 AUGUST, 2009



When Basanta Thapa of the Himal Association called me up and asked me if I’d like to be one of the jury members of the UK Nepal Climate Change Competition, it sounded easy. “We’ve received three films,” he said. “About seven have registered to send more.” We estimated at the most about two dozen films, each three minutes long, that we’d watch in one sitting.

When I rushed in at 9:15am at the judging venue, and said: “I hear we now have 70 submissions!”, Basanta Dai said to me: “Its now 124!” The numbers were incredible, if only because a few years ago one could count the number of filmmakers on the fingers of two hands. As we sat down to watch the first film, I got a tingle in my scalp from the excitement. There were 124 filmmakers in Nepal who were not just interested in climate change issues but who had actually gotten it together to submit films? This, indeed, ws good news for Nepal. This explosion of filmmaking had come not just from access to cheap technology but also to the notion that film was a difficult, expensive and high endeavour available only to the priviledged few. Film had, finally, become a democratic medium for expression.

I remember 1998 when I put in a proposal to make a film about water through IRC Netherlands, and was a lonely 26 year old female filmmaker in what appeared to be a rather set and stable world of senior, male filmmakers. My proposal was accepted over the others—and I think I was never quite forgiven for this by my competitors. Admittedly, one reason why the producer chose me was the incredibly low budget I sent in. I guess that undercutting the market price in 1998 was just a hint of times to come, when expensive beta and film would give way to a wave of cheap technology that would allow any youngster with an innovative idea, a camcorder and some familiarity with an editing program to express their views to the world.

The 124 films span the spectrum, from professionally shot documentaries to amateur films shot with low budget technology. Styles vary from plain didactic teacherly model of father and mother instructing children, to what appears to be montages of National Geographic footage, to Powerpoint presentations with music, to Kollywood melodramas, to serious documentaries, to stylized dramas, to hiphop videos. The blue globe appears to be a favorite starting motif, with it appearing in over thirty percent of the films! The subtitles (a requirement of the competition was that the films be subtitled in English) are often surreal. Some of the films have nothing to do with the theme—one submission was about the dangers of swine flu (appropriately mistitled “swan flue.”) One filmmaker subtitled his films in what appeared to be Bhanubhakta style poetry lyrics.

As the day goes by and the images of the planet heading towards an apocalyptic course piles on top of each other, we find ourselves laughing at moments of light relief. Because of course, underneath the dramas of stories of floods, and glacier lake melts, and food shortages, and carbon emission, is the ever-present thought that we may be heading towards a climactic point of no return. So it is a relief to see films which provide solutions, and which tell us how we may be able to get out of this mess—everything from caps on automobile and industrial pollution, to the termination of chemicals that cause global warming, to changes in lifestyle.

What is clear is that the three winning films will not be the end of the story. The story of climate change continues throughout all the other films, the top 10 and even the top 20, and perhaps all 124 films, which string together to tell a story much larger, more profound and more richer than anything that can be seen and understood within 10 minutes. The hope, of course, is that the filmmakers from all backgrounds will continue to tell their stories even after the global climate change conference, where the films will be screened, is over.

The lesson from being in the jury is clear. There is a great desire to tell their stories in a new generation of Nepali storytellers. This desire and wish should be nurtured and mentored by international organizations, the Nepal Film Board, but also schools and universities who should add film courses to their traditional curriculum so that young people can learn to tell their stories in creative ways that are just seeming to be possible now. And perhaps, through these creative acts, the linkages to lifestyle changes—less consumerism, choosing more sustainable energy options, using less disposable goods—will appear clearer.

Sushma Joshi is a writer and filmmaker. Read more about her documentary WATER here:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Judge at the NIIFF (Nepal Indigenous Film Festival), 2009

I was invited to be a judge at the Nepal Indigenous Film Festival in 2009.

 The NIIFF is organized by the Indigenous Film Archives, one of the most democratic and well respected film organizations in Nepal. IFA has organized 7 film festivals and shown a wide-ranging selection of films from all ethnic and indigenous groups of Nepal.

NIIFF 2009

  NIIFF 2009 was organized with the following objectives; 
1.   Promote and help in the development of indigenous films
2.      Provide forum to indigenous filmmakers to show their skills, capacity and learning
3.     Provide learning environment on indigenous issues and showcase them; 
4.    Help to promote market of indigenous films and 
5.   Support in creation of cultural harmony among different societies.

You can view the archives in this link. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Participatory Video

This book, by Shirley A. White, mentions PANI (Water) in the book.

The potential of new information and communications technologies is acknowledged by all today. This book examines the importance of participatory video as a catalyst for development. It shows how powerful video images have been used to promote changes in attitudes and social behaviour, helping communities identify development solutions that are within their reach. Video has been used to reach policymakers, to empower women and to rescue the culture and heritage of indigenous people. As a mediation tool, the power of video has been used to resolve conflicts, achieve consensus and find common ground for collective action. This book brings together practical information on innovative experiences with the use of participatory video. It contains a thoughtful analysis of some essential issues to be taken into account in planning and implementing video processes.

Participatory Video: Images that Transform and Empower
By Shirley A. White
Published by Sage Publications, 2003
ISBN 0761997636, 9780761997634
412 pages

From Video Voice Collective Blog:

Professor White’s book is an incredible contribution to practitioners of participatory video. It is one of perhaps 3-4 books written on this subject; an early adapter extraordinaire that is sure to be followed by a flood of books on participatory video in the coming years! Professor White’s book reminds us that we are arriving at a truly miraculous era of participatory media and culture. We have a lot to be thankful for because it has never been easier to collaborate, produce, and distribute videos with communities across the globe.

Friday, February 29, 2008

3rd Annual Nepali Film Festival: Vancouver, Canada


A Life with Slate
(2006, 59 min.)

Director: Dipesh Kharel

In Alampu, a beautiful and exceedingly remote village in rural Nepal, more than 90% of villagers work in the local slate mine. Their lives take on an almost poetic dimension, as women perform treacherous and arduous work alongside men in the mountainside mines. We learn how to separate slate slabs from the precipitous rock face and watch as miners carry heavy slate loads to distant markets. The film emphasizes the way co-operation between the miners makes this tough life bearable, and portrays moving scenes of the lives of mining families.

Selected for the Nepal International Indigenous Film Festival 2007 and the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival 2007

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Yearning for Learning
(2006, 22 min.)

Director: Kedar Sharma

Twelve-year-old Bharat understands the challenge of being born into a poor family in a poor country. For many children in rural Nepal, attending school is a privilege rather than a right. Those who don't go to school have futures shrouded in uncertainty. Bharat, however, knows the importance of education. Through his and his mother's undaunting efforts, he manages to go to school and reserve some hours of the day for study. As well as telling Bharat's story, the film discusses issues of child exploitation and abuse of children's rights in Nepal.

Selected for the Jiri Film Festival, Nepal, March 2007

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The Icefall Doctor: Angnima Sherpa
(2007, 28 min.)
Director: Hari Thapa

The Icefall Doctor examines the life and work of Angnima Sherpa who, since 1975, has made the Khumbu Icefall safe for thousands of climbers. The Khumbu Icefall is the terrifying gateway to Mt. Everest from the south side. Angnima and his team are the first ones too reach base camp, and the last ones to leave. Building anchors and setting ladders, safety is their top priority. This fascinating, beautiful film brings to light an aspect of climbing of which many people are unaware.

Selected for the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival 2007

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Daughters of Everest
(2004, 56 min.)
Directors: Sapana Sakya and Ramyata Limbu

The award winning and captivating, Daughters of Everest documents the first ever expedition of Sherpa women to climb Mt. Everest. Although the Sherpa people are legendary for their unmatched skill in mountaineering, Sherpa women are discouraged from climbing Everest, relegated instead to support roles in the climbing industry of Nepal. Told from a woman's perspective rarely seen on Everest or off, this film is both a dramatic, inspiring Everest story and an absorbing portrait of the Sherpa community.


Best Documentary Award, Mt. Shasta Film Festival, California
Best Climbing Film, The Banff Mountain Film Festival, Canada
Jury Award, Mountain Film, Telluride, Colorado
Best Mountain Culture Documentary Award, Taos Mountain Film Festival, New Mexico
Grand Festival Award, Berkeley Video & Film Festival, California
Nominated for Best Documentary, Asian Film Festival in Dallas, Texas, 2004

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Machanaayo, the Leader
(2006, 30 min.)

Director: Deepak Rauniyar

Troubled by the destruction of beautiful old houses in Kathmandu, architect and sculptor, Rabindra Puri, quit his job to work full-time preserving buildings built in traditional Nepali styles of architecture. The film documents Rabindra's renovation and preservation of Namuna Ghar, a stunning and intricately designed 150-year old Newari-style house in Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Rabindra won the 2004 UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award for his work. Namuna Ghar has inspired more than 10,000 visitors, and stands as a model and reminder of the importance of preserving Nepal's unique architectural styles.
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A Silent Monsoon
(2007, 34 min.)

Director: Pravash Gurung

Set in a rural Nepali village, Nabarasiyeko Jhari (A Silent Monsoon) tells the story of Durga and her struggle to save her twelve-year-old daughter, Laxmi, from the family profession of prostitution. Will Durga be able to fight society and her fate, and set her daughter free? With brilliant performances by Nepal's most respected actresses, Nisha Sharma Pokharel as Durga and Subhadra Adhikari as her mother, the film questions "life" and "death" through three generations of women trapped between custom and circumstances, wrapped in the alluring beauty of Nepal.

Official Selection at the following film festivals:

VC Filmfest: The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, 2007
Aarhus Festival of Independent ArtsDenmark, 2007
Cleveland International Film Festival, 2007
Sarasota Film Festival, 2007
Sedona International Film Festival, 2007

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(2007, 80 min.)

Director: Maotse Gurung

During school vacation, an urban girl, Kripa, is brought back to her natal village by her aunt to live with her deaf father. Friendless and lonely, she meets a Lahure (a British/Indian Gurkha), who teaches her to adjust to the village life. She finds friendships in two village children, Neha and Thagu, and learns to feel for her father, Ode, as well. It’s not long before Kripa finds herself caring about a range of social issues.

Kripa, the film, is a beautiful presentation of socio-cultural complexity involving the struggle of a reform-minded individual against the forces who seek to sustain and benefit from deep-rooted myths and superstition.

Selected for the Nepal International Indigenous Film Festival 2007; Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival 2007

Audience Award, Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival 2007 (KIMFF 2007)

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December Blues
(2006, 35 min.)
Director: Shekar Kharel

A look at modern day Kathmandu through the eyes of the affluent youth. This intriguing documentary shows a side of Kathmandu outside the typical scenes of mountain villages and their inhabitants. It shows Nepal youth embracing dance clubs, party websites and western style revelerie.

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Outside the Newsroom
(2006, 23 min.)
Director: Dil Bhusan Pathak

After learning of the tragic death of a village woman as a result of abortion by the most conservative and unhygienic means, a television news anchor embarks on a journey to the remote Accham district in pursuit of the story. Through the film, we learn about archaic methods of abortion still prevalent in many parts of Nepal, and the resulting suffering of women. The film captures the individual tragedy that is the result of the vicious circle of poverty, ignorance, gender discrimination and fatalism.

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A Nepali Émigré in Paris
(2006, 4 min.)

Director: Sushma Joshi

A Nepali man flees political repression in Nepal in the late 1980s as the fight for democracy begins. After living in Paris for 20 years, he has had no reason to look back - until now, when both his loyalty and his love are torn between two sides.

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Better to have been Killed
(2007, 52 min.)

Director: Dhruba Basnet

A beautifully shot film by a Nepali documentary supremo that documents how journalists were treated during King Gyanendra's reign.
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Pani (Water)
(2000, 28 min.)
Director: Sushma Joshi

Pani documents the lively discussions between the inhabitants of Lele, a rural Nepali village, about the daily problems of their water supply system and its management. The film follows the growing conflict in the community after the installation of a water pipe and tap system. Gender and caste differences play a vital part in the disputes as women and lower caste members are excluded from decision making even though they are the principal users. The film tracks the wide disparity in control and communication revealing frustrations that result in the pipe being cut and maintenance fees unpaid. The lesson portrayed is that even small scale models of development will not work unless traditional social infrastructure, especially gender biases and cultural discrimination, are addressed by donors and local managers.

Selected for the Himalayan Film Festival, London, October 2007

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Our School
(2006, 28 min.)
Director: Kedar Sharma

Our School is a moving portrayal of “inclusive” schools in Nepal and challenges discriminatory, exclusive practices against disabled children. The narrator, Ramesh, himself a blind child, explains how studying in a school with students who can see makes him feel “normal”. The film focuses on three schools, taken as examples, in different part of the country: the first is a school for deaf and hearing-abled students; the second is for blind and sight-abled students; and the third school, in the capital, teaches children of brick-makers who come to Kathmandu for six months every year. The film makes the points that these children are not disabled but rather are different with their own unique abilities and talents, and should not be excluded from attending school with other children.

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Important Info:

Time: 11am-6:30pm
Date: February 24, 2008
Place: Langara College
(100 West 49th Avenue)


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Nepali Film Festival, Vancouver, 2008

"PANI" and "A Nepali Emigre in Paris" will be showing at the Nepali film festival in Vancouver on February 24th, 2008. For more information, visit the website:

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Himalayan Film Festival, London

PANI is showing at the Himalayan Film Festival in School of Oriental and African Studies, London on October 13. Please go if you can!

Saturday Films (13th Oct)
The Living of Jogimara 7pm
A film about 17 young men from Jogimara village in Dhading district who were killed by security forces while they were building an airport in Kalikot.
[Dir. Mohan Mainali, 38mins]

The Living of Jogimara - The Wait Continues 7:50pm
This is the follow up to the first film to bring us up to date with what has happened in the same small village in Dhading.
[Dir. Mohan Mainali, 14mins]

Operation free voice 8:10pm
Hasta Gurung’s documentary is a chronology of the crackdown on the media after the February 2005 military coup by the king. Overnight, newsrooms were turned into barracks, there was direct censorship and FM stations were not allowed to broadcast news. Operation Free Voice documents the stories of the journalists in the frontlines, how they struggled to uphold their freedom, defied controls and then used media’s power to restore democracy.
[Dir. Hasta Gurung, 43mins]

Pani (Water) 9pm
This video presentation shows the very lively discussions between the inhabitants of the rural Nepali village, Lele, about the daily problems of their water supply system and its management. It follows the growing conflict in the community after a water pipe and tap system was installed. Gender and caste differences play a vital part in the disputes as women and lower caste members are excluded from decision making even though they are the principal users. The video tracks the wide disparity in control and communication revealing frustrations that result in the pipe being cut and maintenance fees unpaid. The lesson portrayed is that even small scale models of development will not work unless traditional social infrastructure, especially gender biases and cultural discrimination, are addressed by donors and local managers.
[Dir. Sushma Joshi, 28mins]

Suk Bahadur Adhikari 9:30pm
After a life spent working as a driver in the British India Government, 79 year old Sukh Bahadur Adhikari has returned home to his village in rural Nepal. At the age when most are content with retirement, Sukh Bahadur sets on the path to fulfill his dreams of pursuing a school education at the age of 79. He attends the local school sitting next to his granddaughter in class 4, and they sit alongside at home completing their assignments. Though lacking formal education, Sukh Bahadur is a man of wisdom and his insights into the nuances of life, religion, culture and development are thrilling to watch. This film provides a heart touching glimpse into the life of a man and his quest for education.
[Dir. Dil Bhusan Pathak, 24mins]

*All films are in English or with English subtitles.
**Please also note that seats are limited and those that arrive first will take priority.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The extraordinary wisdom of the tantrics

Water scarcity and water management become big issues as the globe warms up and we edge closer to the 11th hour. A while back, I had the good fortune to accompany a few friends to see the Raj Kulo, a mediaval water system that brought water to the Kathmandu Valley. Astonishingly, the Raj Kulo still works where people haven't dug it up or sunk concrete foundations into the water sources.

The "hiti" (Newari water spouts made of stone) of Patan and Bhaktapur are fed through this elaborate system in which the water is brought through canals all the way from Tika Bhairav. Knowing the meddlesome (and stupid) nature of modern people, the ancients devised a tantric secrecy around their water system. The tantric priests were the only ones who knew when the water sources were located, perhaps as a way to counteract acts of sabotage from warring neighbours. The water was piped in through an elaborate filtration system so good people still go to drink water from one particular spout in Patan, believing that the water promotes longetivity. The secrecy protected the water systems from being completely overhauled and destroyed when modern engineering and water system came into being. Interestingly, the Kathmandu municipality’s water system, run through rusty and damaged water pipes, is more unreliable than the hiti sources. At least in one location in Patan, we found out that the locals actively pumped water from their Hiti straight up into their tanks during the night.

The smartest thing people living in Kathmandu could do, in the face of increasing water scarcity, is to look into ways to revive their old stone spouts and hiti systems. The second smartest thing would be to build rainwater harvesting systems in their backyards, since Severns Trent is hardly likely to fulfill the Kathmandu Valley’s water demands.

India is considered the big bad brother when it comes to water and Nepal (it wants to grab all the water, it builds dams that overflow and cause floods on the Nepal border) so it is refreshing to see that at least in one respect its doing something right: The Indian Government is giving a respectable amount of money to repair the Raj Kulo. Stay tuned for more…

"The Escape" accepted to the Berlinale's Talent Campus, 2007

Accepted to the Berlinale Film Festival's Talent Campus in 2007

A squad of young Maoists come to execute a teacher, who escapes and runs through the jungle for two days to reach help.

A civil conflict raged in Nepal from 1996-2006. Education was severely affected. The Maoists, leading a People's War, killed schoolteachers and forced them to leave the villages for supporting political parties, teaching Sanskrit, or for suspected spying. Amnesty Internationa recorded cases of schoolteachers executed by the guerillas.

Maoists pressured teachers to teach the Maoist curriculum, and to contribute half of their salary to the People’s War. The rebels held indoctrination meetings in schools. They abducted schoolchildren for periods of time, and pressured them to join the movement. The state security forces, including police and the Royal Nepal Army, retaliated by imprisoning and torturing teachers suspected of sympathizing with Maoists. Security forces fired on school-grounds as rebels held meetings.

Schoolteachers, caught in-between the conflict, migrated to Kathmandu and other cities between 1996-2006. Unable to find work, they live in dire poverty.

This short is based on an incident told by a schoolteacher from Mugu, Western Nepal, to the filmmaker in a camp for internally displaced refugees in Kohalpur, Southern Nepal. The teacher now lives a life as a displaced internal refugee in Nepalgunj.

This short is a fictional, dramatic, and poetic film. It aims to remind us what occured during Nepal's civil conflict, and to catch some of the subjective nature of experience.

(PS: This short was shot in film school in Paris on no-budget with volunteer actors of many nationalities. The main actor was quite upset at the director because she made him bring the props--including the old t-shirt and white flour with which we covered him in the last few scenes. The actor playing the Maoist got lost because she was new to Paris and almost was a no-show because she was waiting in the wrong station! Please don't expect perfection. This is a student film.)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Berlinale Talents 2007: profile page

Here is my profile page in the Berlinale Talents website. With my supercool buzzcut and red manic-panic hair dye, circa 1992!