At the Top of the World for Nepali Films
(Democracy Video Challenge winner is bursting with enthusiasm)
By Jeff Baron
Washington — Anup Poudel is eager to bring his country to movie screens around the world.
At age 20, the Nepali winner of the Democracy Video Challenge ( http://www.america.gov/st/democracyhr-english/2010/June/20100628112337kjleinad0.9730646.html ) is a film student and sometimes a crew member on commercial movies. In an interview in Washington, he was joyful about having recently received his award from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM5odXxhGCU ) — “I feel like I’m on the peak of Mount Everest,” he said — and brimming with enthusiasm about his future in the Nepali film industry.
In any case, he had no second thoughts about his chosen career: “I’m fascinated about filmmaking. Filmmaking gives me two wings to fly with my imagination.”
The Democracy Video Challenge was a particularly appropriate one for Poudel, who speaks proudly about his father, a political leader, and passionately about Nepal’s decadeslong struggle to develop a democracy. He said his family has endured difficulties over the years, and his father has faced threats from Maoists.
Poudel’s winning video shows democracy as a combination of colors suggested by members of his family: blue from his father, to represent freedom; yellow from his brother, for unity; green from his sister, for peace; and red from his mother, for love. Together, they become black, which Poudel says is the color of power — the power of a nation. Poudel said he made the video for 20 rupees — about 27 U.S. cents — to pay for the paint.
The film projects he said he wants to pursue have strong political angles, such as a biography of Nepali writer Krishna Lal Adhikari — arrested in 1920 and left to die in prison for publishing a satiric novel, almost every copy of which was destroyed — and a fictional tale of three young Nepali men, sons of a Maoist activist, a pro-democracy politician and an army officer.
“Being a Nepali, I like to make films based on Nepali origin. We are rich in our culture,” Poudel said, adding that Nepal has several languages, cultural groups and religions. “And I have promised my audience — I create an audience by now because all are expecting something from me — I promised that audience to show our films into the international market.”
Poudel said the independent film industry in Nepal is growing and gaining attention in festivals in Asia and elsewhere. “Many young filmmakers are trying to change the society through film … based on our story, based on our history, based on our culture,” he said.
He said that with many young Nepalis learning to make movies and with so much good material to draw from in Nepali society and history, he foresees Nepali movies “winning lots of Oscar awards, Cannes awards.”
Nepal’s commercial film industry, meanwhile, is going after the rupees that are spent on movies produced in South Korea and India’s Bollywood, he said. Poudel said many of the commercial films are not very good. “It takes time to change, I guess,” he added. He said that on his return to Nepal he will resume his job as an assistant director on a film in preproduction.
First, though, there was the trip to the United States for the Democracy Video Challenge award winners. In addition to Washington, the trip included stops in New York, with a visit to the film school at New York University, and in Los Angeles, with a visit to a Hollywood movie studio. “I am most excited with those things,” Poudel said.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)