Pioneering filmmaking workshop Gograha concludes awarding grants worth Rs 500,000 to three up-and-coming filmmakers

Among the three grantees are Shanta Nepali, Jyotsana Thakuri, and Sunil Gurung.

Rhishav Sapkota

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: Gograha, a year-round mentorship-cum-grant program for beginning and up-and-coming filmmakers, concluded the 2020-21 workshop on Monday, July 12, by awarding three of its finalist projects a grant of Rs 5 lakhs each.

The winning projects for the filmmaking grants this year were Shanta Nepali’s “Muna”, Jyotsana Thakuri’s “Alexia”, and Sunil Gurung’s “Wind Horse”.

One of the first of its kind in Nepal, the mentorship is a three-tier program consisting of an 8-week-long writing workshop, followed by a 12-week directing workshop, and a final award of grants worth Rs 5 lakhs for 3 finalist projects.

Twelve projects were selected for the writing workshop out of nearly 200 applicants, while eight of the 12 projects made the cut to the directing workshop. The awarded three projects will now utilize the grant amount to develop a short film of their choice. 

The winners are expected to finish their projects by the end of 2021. The grantees will be further supported by the program in the production and distribution of their shorts.

The workshop aimed to inspire the participants to discover personal stories and tell them through films. 

One of the grantees, Shanta Nepali, a Kathmandu-based filmmaker who recently directed “Jaat ko Prasna”, said that her screenplay “Muna” is based on a true story and revolves around a woman who comes to Kathmandu from a rural village in Nepal and ends up prostituting in the capital. Her conversations with the woman, she says, touched her deeply and evoked empathy.

Jyotsana Thakuri, an aspiring filmmaker and content writer, said that her screenplay “Alexia” will depict a story centered on Alexia, an unusual condition that bars people from recognizing or reading written words or letters. She said that because she shares the inability, the film will be very personal to her and that she hopes it will bring more attention to the little-known inability.

Sunil Gurung, a US-based registered nurse, said that his passion for films nudged him to join the workshop. His screenplay “Wind Horse” explores the fragmented relationship between a father and a son, he said. His story too, he said, is very personal to him. He looks to transition into being a full-time filmmaker.

Speaking to Nepal Live Today, director Rauniyar emphasized the need for organizational effort to promote the craft of filmmaking. “We lack a state that is proactive in helping develop films in Nepal,” he said. 

Gograha, previously named Biratnagar Film Workshop, is an initiative from the Biratnagar-based organization North South Collectives. The Swiss Embassy in Kathmandu supported the endeavor. 

The entire workshop was facilitated by filmmaker Deepak Rauniyar, actor/screenwriter Asha Magrati, and social researcher Bhaskar Gautam. The three facilitators are also the co-founders of the Gograha initiative.

The workshop was also co-facilitated by actor Dayahang Rai, rights activist Luna Ranjit, production designer Aki Thekpa, film programmer for the Venice Film Festival Pablo Bartolin, Singapore-based producer Jeremy Chua, Bangladeshi director Rubaiyat Hossian, and French director Yann Gonzalez, among others.

Speaking to Nepal Live Today, director Rauniyar emphasized the need for organizational effort to promote the craft of filmmaking. “We lack a state that is proactive in helping develop films in Nepal,” he said. “Our goal with this initiative is to actually help create filmmakers and hopefully help them adapt to the arduous and changing film-scenario in Nepal.”

Gautam highlighted the importance of collaboration in an effort to promote filmmaking in Nepal. “Collaboration does not always imply the formation of organizations,” Gautam said. “Filmmakers and other film industry insiders must work together to explore the nuances of storytelling and other fronts to create better films.”

The organizers also informed that applications were open for the Gograha workshop for 2021-22. In addition to the three-phase workshop, the organizers also announced a 6-week-long writing and film editing residency for filmmakers running from November through January.