On Monday, July 12, Gograha, a year-round mentorship and grant program for aspiring and emerging filmmakers, wrapped up the 2020-21 workshop by awarding three of its finalist projects a grant of Rs 5 lakhs each.
Shanta Nepali’s “Muna,” Jyotsana Thakuri’s “Alexia,” and Sunil Gurung’s “Wind Horse” were the winners of this year’s filmmaking grants.
The mentoring, which is one of the first of its type in Nepal, is a three-tier program that includes an 8-week writing workshop, a 12-week directing workshop, and a final reward of Rs 5 lakhs in funds for three finalist ideas.
Out of approximately 200 applicants, 12 projects were chosen for the writing workshop, and eight of the 12 projects were chosen for the directing workshop. The three ideas that were chosen will now use the grant money to create a short film of their choice.
By the end of 2021, the winners should have completed their projects. The initiative will also assist the grantees with the creation and dissemination of their short films.
The goal of the program was to encourage participants to find personal experiences and tell them through video.
Shanta Nepali, a Kathmandu-based director who recently directed “Jaat ko Prasna,” said her screenplay “Muna” is based on a true story of a lady who travels to Kathmandu from a rural town in Nepal and ends up prostituting in the capital. Her chats with the woman, she claims, had a profound impact on her and elicited empathy.
According to Jyotsana Thakuri, an aspiring filmmaker and content writer, her script “Alexia” would tell the narrative of Alexia, a rare illness that prevents people from recognizing or reading written words or letters. She stated that the video will be highly personal to her because she shares the inability and that she hopes it will raise awareness about the little-known condition.
Sunil Gurung, a certified nurse from the United States, said he was drawn to the workshop because of his love of movies. According to him, his screenplay “Wind Horse” depicts the fractured relationship between a father and a son. He, too, has a very personal narrative, he said. He intends to pursue a career as a full-time filmmaker.
Gograha, formerly known as Biratnagar Film Workshop, is a project of North South Collectives, a Biratnagar-based organization. The Swiss Embassy in Kathmandu lent their assistance to the project.
Filmmaker Deepak Rauniyar, actor/screenwriter Asha Magrati, and social researcher Bhaskar Gautam led the entire session. The Gograha initiative’s three facilitators are also co-founders.
Actor Dayahang Rai, rights activist Luna Ranjit, production designer Aki Thekpa, Venice Film Festival film programmer Pablo Bartolin, Singapore-based producer Jeremy Chua, Bangladeshi director Rubaiyat Hossian, and French director Yann Gonzalez, among others, co-facilitated the workshop.
Director Rauniyar, speaking to Nepal Live Today, stressed the need of organizational effort in promoting the skill of filmmaking. “We don’t have a state that is proactive in assisting with the development of films in Nepal,” he remarked. “Our goal with this program is to genuinely help build filmmakers and maybe help them adjust to Nepal’s challenging and evolving film industry.”
In order to encourage filmmaking in Nepal, Gautam stressed the necessity of collaboration. According to Gautam, “collaboration does not automatically mean the development of organizations.” “In order to develop better films, filmmakers and other film industry experts must collaborate to investigate the complexities of storytelling and other fronts.”
The organizers also announced that applications for the Gograha workshop in 2021-22 were now available. The organizers have announced a 6-week writing and film editing residency for filmmakers from November to January, in addition to the three-phase workshop.