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Film Gathering!

Date Added: November 12, 2007 03:26:39 PM

With the slogan DARE TO DOCUMENTARY, the South Asian extravaganza of non fiction films kicked off in Kathmandu this October. Four dozen South Asian documentaries “for the people of South Asia, by the people of South Asia, to the people of South Asia” have been screened in four days.

The sixth edition of the festival that began in 1997 in Kathmandu's Cinema Hall, saw a well attended crowd even as the traffic was disrupted in some parts of the city because of the Maoist-organized rallies. Over the past ten years, the festival has not only created a forum for the filmmakers of the region to showcase their talents and express themselves but also created a documentary craze, so to speak, among the people of Kathmandu. Such was the love towards documentaries in Kathmanduits that the first show of the festival, after the inaugural one, experienced some audiences sitting on the floor an aisles of the theater to see a documentary film about two rebellious Bangladeshi sisters born and raised in London but are forced to go back to their parents’ motherland for arranged marriage. I was among those who felt lucky to find space to sit on the aisle and was thrilled to see audience (including myself) erupting in laughter as the film progressed.
The best thing about documentaries that are shown in Film South Asia is that they tell the stories that we don’t always hear in the mainstream media. And this festival provides, to use the example of a super market, many such stories on the same screen! Plus, it’s a pleasant experience to watch movies with other people and sharing laughter or sadness with them.
Indian filmmaker Saeed Mirza, who is the jury leader for this festival, said that the festival has provided young people in the region a forum to express themselves. “Despite all the struggles they end up making beautiful films,” he said about the struggling filmmakers of the region. And he gave his “quotable quote” that went something like this: “Documentary is good for the sanity o all society.”
The Kumari Story: “Living Goddess”, a documentary about the Kumari of Bhaktapur and the Nepali tradition of worshipping a pre-puberty age virgin girl, was screened at the inaugural function. It got audience mixed reactions: rare shots of the daily life of Kumari Sajani Shakya but too long (90 minutes), repetitive and confusing as director tries to relate the tradition with the public sentiment on the street. Kumari, the living goddess, is considered the source of power to the ruling king but the tradition is slowly waning and the public’s trust in Kumari is disappearing because the people on the street are shouting slogans against “thief king” and they are increasingly demanding Nepal be declared a republic. It showed the connection was a beautiful idea but found the execution slightly dull.








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