Tuesday, August 28, 2007

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


THE ESCAPE (2006)
DIRECTOR: SUSHMA JOSHI
9 MINS, 16MM, BLACK AND WHITE
PRODUCED AT THE NEW YORK FILM ACADEMY, LA FEMIS, PARIS, FRANCE
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.)