Stories on education from young and aspiring filmmakers
KATHMANDU, Dec 10: Small creatures from Underville, who discover a tiny magnifying glass piece, begin to see things much more closely and clearly. They come to a school where children are learning about the science of pulleys, about algebra and application of force. So when a flood devastates their settlement, the creatures apply what they have learnt about pulleys to stop the flood and eventually save lives.
This is the story of the five-minute animation “Once Upon a Story,” directed by Bishwa Darshan Nepal, which stood first in the ‘Educating Nepal’ short-story competition organized by Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival (KIMFF) with support from Open Society Foundations.
By profession, Bishwa Darshan Nepal is a 29-year-old telecom technician at Nepal Telecom. But he is interested in films, even though he has not been very involved in making films himself.
“I’ve been following KIMFF since 2002,” shares Nepal who says that he gets much satisfaction from animation and hence chose this genre to participate in Educating Nepal. “Coming up with a film for short duration of time is a difficult task. When I heard about this competition, most of my time went to coming up with a concept. Hence I chose animation to deliver the concept because in animation, it doesn’t take a lot of people to complete the task and it can be done by sitting in front of the computer. Hence, it’s advantageous that way,” he adds.
Nepal’s film shows how education can be implemented in our lives to accomplish great things. “Literacy alone doesn’t guarantee development,” opines Nepal. “Change can come only when people implement their education in the right place,” he adds.
“Once Upon a Story,” the film voted the best among 44 entries in the competition, walked away with a cash prize of Rs 75,000. The jury for the competition comprised journalist Narayan Wagle, education specialist Dr Pramod Bhatta, and filmmaker Subina Shrestha.
“The first thing we looked at was whether the film was good or not. Then we also took into consideration of the adherence of the films to the theme of education, and finally, the enjoyment aspect while judging the films,” explained Wagle while Shrestha commented, “The quality of the entries exceeded my expectations. The films were very original and the makers very talented.”
The film “Apple” made by Suraj Maharjan, 25, and Ankit KC, 22, was judged the second best of the entries.
“The movie’s shot and edited well,” commented Shrestha about the film which shows the need to reeducate educators and to create a fearless environment inside classrooms, portraying the psychological problems that students can face from such an atmosphere.
Both filmmakers have been involved in filmmaking. While KC has a dedicated YouTube channel for his creations, Maharjan has worked with several short film projects.
Talking about “Apple,” Maharjan says, “The issue in our film is something that we’ve been through as students. We’ve experienced physical punishment from our teachers at school and know well the fear of students.”
Slightly different from the other competing films, “Belum” makes use of metaphors to convey the message of the importance of education. Directed by 29-year-old Prakash Silwal, an art director by profession, “Belum” bagged the third position. Conceptually and visually strong in its creation, the short film begins with a balloon which has been lying on the ground, being picked up and inflated by balloon sellers. On a bunch of helium balloons inflated by the seller this way, an elderly man attaches pieces of paper with the words ‘success’ and ‘education’ written on them, and sends them off to the sky.
“Everyone starts at the ground level, but with education, be it formal or informal, people, regardless of their gender, castes, or other differences, can achieve success,” shares Silwal. He is enthusiastic about filmmaking and wishes to give Nepal a creative identity in the world. “People forget what’s around them. There are many stories around us,” he adds.
The films which stood in the second and third positions in the competition were awarded Rs 50,000 and Rs 30,000 respectively.
Educating Nepal created a strong platform for young filmmakers to present their ideas on education and to keep the conversation on education in Nepal going so that the existing challenges and loopholes can be brought into light and thus dealt with.
“I used to come to KIMFF earlier with my brothers. Back then, most visitors used to be foreigners. But now, the scenario has changed. Now a lot of Nepalis are coming to KIMFF. The culture of watching films and documentaries and also making them has been injected in Nepalis. And the credit for this goes to platforms such as KIMFF and Film Southasia,” says Nepal.
In his opening remarks during the inaugural ceremony for KIMFF, Festival Chair Basanta Thapa had spoken about how this festival was acting as a springboard for young filmmakers, encouraging them to keep up their creativity with a much needed platform for exposure of their skills and creativity.
With Educating Nepal, this claim has in fact been proven.
The award ceremony for Educating Nepal took place on December 10 at the City Hall, Bhrikutimandap. KIMFF 2012 will come to an end on December 11