Kathmandu: A documentary ‘The Widows of Everest‘, that tells a story particularly about Sherpa widows defying tradition to conquer the world’s highest mountain, has won a bronze medal at NYF TV & Film Awards.
The documentary, produced by 101 East, Al Jazeera’s in-depth, weekly current affairs program, won the award in the Community Portraits category. It had also made it to the finalist in another Human Concerns category.
The main theme of the documentary is: “Mount Everest is the ultimate mountaineering challenge. Climbers come from around the world seeking glory, but for those helping them scale the world’s highest peak, it can be deadly work.”
“Sherpa men die in disproportionate numbers, leaving behind widows who struggle to survive. Forced to become breadwinners, some women are defying tradition by breaking into the male-dominated world of Himalayan climbing,” stated the introduction section of the documentary.
“Taking on Everest is part of a larger battle to overcome centuries of discrimination against women who have lost their husbands to the mountain.”
The production of the documentary was full of risks and uncertainties. “When I was first assigned to shoot on The Widows of Everest documentary in the Everest region for Al Jazeera 101 East, I had no idea that this story would change how I saw nearly everything, and almost cost me my life,” co-director Rojita Adhikari wrote in a recent blog.
The documentary is jointly directed by Sreya Banerjee and Rojita Adhikari.
Sreya Banerjee is a New Delhi-based journalist and filmmaker whose documentaries have appeared on Al Jazeera, France 24, Channel News Asia and Arte.
Over the past 15 years, she has worked extensively in North America, Europe and Asia, focusing on social and political issues. Before moving to India to focus on long-form filmmaking, she worked in New York, Washington and Paris for Reuters and the BBC.
Rojita Adhikari is an investigative multimedia journalist who specializes in gender issues, migration, reproductive rights, trafficking, violence against women and other social justice issues.
Her reports have appeared in world’s renowned media outlets including but not limited to The Guardian, TIME, Al Jazeera, BMJ, CNN, BBC World Service, SciDevNet, NPR, GHN, and Nepali Times.