On my last week in Katmandu while waiting for my Visa to India I’ve been to the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival. No, I was not working (to answer all the raised eye browsed) just enjoying myself as a viewer. I caught the last day of the festival and got there just in time for the last three movies of the event. The first two are not really worth mentioning although I learned that a low caste in Nepal – the Chepans – are big drinkers. The more interesting part during the first screening was the ambiance in the hall. I was very amused with the way the audience was very noisy – constantly chatting with each other, talking on the phone and laughing out loud.
Then there was the third movie “Sari soldiers” which is an absolutely great movie. It was a very good documentary done with an extremely impressive research and unique characters. If you are interested in international human rights this is one movie you should watch. The film exposed the political revolution in Nepal over the past five years through the eyes of six women. I learned that in 2006 Nepal had the highest number of disappearing persons in the world. I learned allot about the history and political aspirations of the Maoist groups in Nepal and their contribution to the feminist movement of the country by guaranteeing equal rights to women and promoting women tohigh field positions. I also learned that the Nepali National army has been making an effort to compete with the Maoist by recruiting more and more female.
In terms of information it was probably the most educative activity I’ve done in the past three months of traveling. However, once again, what strike me the most was the audience. To say that the city hall was full would be an understatement. It was packed with people sitting on the floor and on top of each other. It was a young, educated and politically involved crowed. These young Nepalese were the most involved cinema crowed I have ever come across. They identified with the characters, screamed at the screen with appreciation and disappointment, cheered some and booed others and whistled at the scenes where young students were bitten by the police forces. For me it was the first time I came across these type of Nepalese rather than the very poor ones or the ones in the tourist industry and it was a hell of an experience. I also remember thinking how lucky was the director who attended the screening to receive such good response to her work.
Since it was the last event of the festival, the screening was attended by two high ranking Nepalese politicians. One of them was the minister of tourism – a lady representing the Maoist party and was in exile for many years. She was there with her body guards. What’s more? each and every possible media faction in Nepal covered the event: newspapers, TV and radio stations. I was caught on camera and appeared on the front page of Katmandu City Post the next day.