|Home > News||21 May 2003|
First ever documentary festival outside Kathmandu
The Himalayas are coming alive with the sound of….documentaries. Rural and urban Nepali audiences and cable television operators are clamouring for more and better documentary films. TVE's Nepali partner is happy to respond.
The Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ) recently held two day film festivals in two locations in the remote provinces of Nepal. The festivals aimed to popularise the watching of documentaries among audiences outside the capital Kathmandu. The documentaries touched on many key environmental and social issues directly affecting the lives of Nepali people.
With support from the Truth Talking Project, NEFEJ took a selection of films to the cities of Dharan and Pokhara between 26 and 31 March 2003. Over the last few years the phenomenon of documentary film festivals has begun to take off in Nepal. The increasingly popular Film South Asia festival is held bi-annually since 1990 while the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival has also had two editions since 2000. The success of such festivals has demonstrated the desire of Nepali audiences to watch high quality non-fiction and educational films.
What NEFEJ did was to take the documentary to the real grassroots in Nepal. Says Rabindra Pandey, coordinator of NEFEJ's audio-visual unit: "Although these festivals have been a great success, no such event had previously been organised outside Kathmandu city."
Pandey described the two festivals as an overwhelming success. "In both places we received a tremendous response from the audience. The auditoriums (each holding several hundred people) were virtually full - something very rare for a documentary screening. We received numerous requests for repeat screenings from the people."
The festivals were organised in collaboration with local partner organisations in each city. In Dharan, a local cultural and drama group, Dharan Natya Jamat, helped promote the festival, which was held in the theatre of a local high school. In Pokhara, the festival was hosted by the Kaski branch of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists in an auditorium given free of charge by the Pokhara Industry and Commerce Association.
"Hopefully the films shown during the festival will promote activism in Nepal to reduce social discrimination and promote conservation," said Padma Ratna Tuladhar, a well known local human rights activist who attended the festival in Pokhara.
"The healthy media attention generated by the festival, which included national press coverage, has encouraged people from other cities to organise such film festivals," says Pandey. "The local partners too have shown keen interest in making the film festival a regular event in their cities."
Proceeds from the two festivals went to the local supporting organisations. In addition, NEFEJ donated Nepali Rs. 10,000 (approx. US$130) to Dharan Natya Jamat to help fund the construction of their own local theatre.