Although there are over 14 mountains more than 8,000 meters tall that dominate the world, Nepal tends to get overlooked on the international stage. Nonetheless, there are many noteworthy films both produced by and directed by Nepalis and foreigners that will engage you and show you the nation’s far-flung history and culture. For filmmakers, any kind of filmmaking production in the country is a lengthy process that requires a lot of attention to detail. In fact, it’s been said that 2 good movies have been made per year on an average since 1966. Here is a list of 10 Nepal based films only a handful of people know about:
10 Nepal based films films that deserve more recognition
Explore the vibrant world of Nepali cinema with these 10 lesser-known films that deserve more recognition. From heartwarming dramas to awe-inspiring tales of survival, each movie offers a unique glimpse into the culture and experiences of Nepal.
1. Himalaya (1999)
The first film to represent Nepal in Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film, Himalaya features an exotic cast of characters in a unique setting playing out their struggles against the backdrop of this remote piece of West Nepal: Dolpo. Director and photographer Eric Valli beautifully captures people’s individual stories as they prepare to make the annual trek with a train of yaks that are essential for their survival. This film tells the story of salt rivalries between elderly chief & new young chief to make the annual trek with a train of yaks.
2. The Sari Soldiers (2008)
In “The Sari Soldiers,” directed by Julie Bridgham, six women struggle amidst the riots that result from war in Nepal. Their experiences of the chaotic civil war are shown, as well as their struggles through all the different aspects of conflict and democratic revolution. This film shows all sides to disputes and what it really means to have a say on issues that influence you.
3. Kathmandu, A Mirror in the Sky (2011)
Kathmandu is a film that tells the story of a woman who tells the story of an instructor in Nepal who wants to help destitute women and reveals how the system forces her into the dirty slums of Kathmandu. The story is based on Laia and is set in the ’90s but also draws us into feeling what life still must be like for people living in such conditions today as well. This was directed by Spanish director Iciar Bollain; both versions are presented in English and Nepali.
4. Who Will Be a Gurkha (2012)
Directed by Nepali director Kesang Tseten , this film captures the rigorous three-phase selection process for the British Military. As Nepal has a long culture and history of Gurkhas, their bravery is well known throughout the world, the Gurkha soldiers have to go through six months of rigorous physical training before they are enlisted to pull on the red berets.
5. Red Monsoon (2014)
Directed by Nepali filmmaker Eelum Dixit, Red Monsoon is based on the struggle of New Nepali generations in a chaotic Kathmandu Valley. The plot is similar to Bollywood’s mainstream movies but with an unusual climax that can certainly be described as heartbreakingly unconventional since there’s no happy ending of any sort!
6. Highway to Dhampus (2014)
Directed by Rick McFarland, Highway to Dhampus is a motion picture which takes place in the Annapurna Mountains region of Nepal. The movie showcases life as it is lived in rural Nepal and depicts familial and interpersonal relationships between humans of normal means having to live ordinary lives. The stunning aerial shots of Pokhara, Dhampus summed by Sam Cardon’s moving original music, the film teases Nepalese living abroad. There are several issues which can be discussed: gender inequality, male dominated societies, marginalized female characters and outsiders without passports.
7. Everest (2015)
The Everest movie adaptation of the book ‘Into Thin Air’ by Jon Krakauer. Directed by Baltasar Kormakur, Everest recounts the narrative of New Zealand’s Robert “Rob” Edwin Hall, who on May 10, 1996 teamed up on a joint expedition to ascend Mount Everest. The expedition team with a group of 8, including the expedition leader was killed by the disastrous avalanche. But there is no sign of Sherpa in this movie and this has led to a lot of criticism. Despite getting mixed reviews and opinions from the critics & audiences alike, Everest has indeed been an amazing addition to the current Hollywood charts. In spite of a large cast of A-list actors like Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke it is because of this film that the audience has taken notice and given their approval for a subject many had not previously known about!
8. Sherpa (2015)
One of the rare films that focuses on how the Sherpas are viewed in today’s society and media. Many movies have been made about mountain climbing, but this film shows us a different perspective of the Sherpas’ working lives — workers who stay far away from the limelight while actually being one of the most important members when it comes down to expedition expeditions.
9. Seto Surya: White Sun (2016)
Directed by Deepak Rauniyar, Seto Surya (White Sun) is the story of an anti-regime partisan and his political change of heart due to the aftereffects of war. It has been 10 years since the end of Nepal’s war but the wound is still fresh, hard to forget. Seto Surya was screened in international film festivals like Venice Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival.
11. Even When I Fall (2017)
Directed by Sky Neal and Kate McLarnon, Even When I Fall takes the audience on an incredible journey through Nepal’s first circus and reveals the shocking truth of child trafficking performed in circuses. Both female actresses, Sheetal and Saraswati, have their own stories. It took 6 years for a team to come up with the final story. It wasn’t easy. It took 2 female performers showing off their talent, each with her own terrible story about thousands of children abducted or sold to Indian circuses every year. They train only to learn under brutal conditions and even miss out on a proper childhood.
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