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Nepali cinema gaining recognition

Representation of Nepali short films in international film festivals has increased pretentiously.

2022 May 26, 8:40, Kathmandu
Photo : Filmmaking / Sachin Ghimire

Over the past years, the representation of Nepali short films in international film festivals has increased pretentiously. The most recent example of it being Abinash Bikram Shah’s ‘Lori: Melancholy of my mother’s lullabies’ being selected among the nine short films in the ‘Short Film Palme D’or’ category this year at the 75th edition of the Cannes Festival, being held in France right now.

“Nepali short films are slowly becoming more visible in international film festivals, some of them have won awards as well, but it is too early to say Nepali films have an overwhelming presence,” says critically acclaimed Nepali filmmaker, Sachin Ghmire. Ghimire has been involved in making movies, documentaries and short films on social issues. His films include
“Punte ko Pangro” released in 2013, which was selected in more than 20 international film festivals around the world and “Diyalee” which has been selected for more than six international film festivals.

Photo : Cinema Hall / piqsels
Photo : Cinema Hall / piqsels

Mid 1980s and early 1990s saw the golden era of Nepali cinema with highly popular films such as Samjhana, Lahure, Basudev, Saino, Koseli and Kusume Rumal being released during that time. However, during the time of the maoist conflict lesser films were being produced due to unfavourable situations created for the film industry to operate in. After the conflict ended, Nepali cinema experienced a second setback caused recently by the COVID-19 pandemic. On being asked how the pandemic affected Nepali cinema, Sachin Ghimire replied, “Cinema theatres were the first to be closed and the last to be opened while COVID-19 restrictions were being implemented in Nepal. Films in the phase of production were not able to be made as producers restrained themselves from investing in film projects.”

“Post production phase films got halted due to mobility curtailing, and ban on gatherings,” he adds. When the cases were consistently low, the government issued an order to allow cinema halls to operate but only with 50 percent occupancy. However, this decision was denied by the Federation of Nepal Film Entrepreneurs as the 50 percent occupancy order was not financially practical for cinema halls.

Many films on the verge of release like Sudarshan Thapa’s “ Ma Yesto Geet Gauchu 2” got halted for months due to the pandemic. Regarding the support given by the Government of Nepal, Sachin Ghimire says, “Although any notable support was not provided from the government’s side to the film industry, certain tax relieves were given to films affected by the pandemic. However there is a glimpse of hope as recently the government has brought the concept of a story bank and has planned to invest in scripts. Scholarships to study in film schools have also begun.”

Photo : Representative image/ SVG
Photo : Representative image/ SVG

As the world is shifting towards home entertainment and easily available cinema content on electronic devices, only a few Nepali films are being released on OTT platforms. “Most Nepali films lack the quality that big OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime video demand, whereas very less amount of money is being invested in Nepali OTT platforms like Cinemaghar and Chalchitra TV as there is less possibility of commercialization in Nepali OTT platforms,” says Sachin Ghimire. “There are chances of piracy and leaks in Nepali OTT platforms which is the reason Nepali filmmakers do not trust these platforms to release their films in them,” he adds.

One of the reasons that Nepali films are unable to perform well commercially is the popularity of Bollywood among Nepali audiences. “Bollywood dominates the Nepali box office, as their films are made on a high budget and have high quality production value which is preferred by the audiences. Except a few, most Nepali films find it hard to compete alongside Bollywood films. Hollywood is still limited to a certain mass in Nepal, as all people do not understand the English language in the country, making Bollywood films the most commercially successful films in Nepal although South Indian films are gaining much popularity in the recent days,'' says Ghimire. Apart from playing a vital role in representing Nepali cinema in international platforms Ghimire is also a medical anthropologist with which comes his interest of understanding Nepali society and its’ cultural practices.

When asked if he is optimistic about the future of Nepali cinema, he replied “ I am very hopeful, we are on a progressive path. Before film schools did not exist, now people are taking up roles in the film industry in a professional way.”

According to him, Nepali films have employed better cinematography and sound production in the last ten years even though the script still lacks to repair itself as others.


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