Nepal International Film Festival kicks off todayThe third edition of the festival will screen 80 films from 40 countries over five days.
The third iteration of the Nepal International Film Festival (NIFF) kicks off at the Rastriya Sabha Griha on Thursday.
The five-day festival, which will conclude on February 17 with an awards ceremony, is organised by Nepal Film and Cultural Academy. The festival was founded to celebrate various forms of storytelling and narratives from all over the world and to create a conscious, responsible and appreciative film culture and atmosphere in our country, according to Rashik Pathak, chief of marketing and promotion.
From over 700 submissions from across the globe, the film festival has shortlisted 80 films (feature, short and documentaries) from over 40 countries. The festival will also hold screenings of the shortlisted films in Nepal Tourism Board, Sarwanam Theatre and Radisson Hotel.
The event will also host a panel talk on filmmaking in an age of streaming, where filmmaker Kiran Bhakta Joshi (Incessant Rain Studios) will be joined by producer Larry Kasanoff (True Lies, Terminator 2 Judgement Day, Mortal Kombat), writer/producer Zack Stentz (X-Men: First Class, Thor, Cody Banks), filmmaker Joylon Hoff (The Staging Post) and studio executive Damien de Froberville (Netflix, Paramount Pictures, Dreamworks) at Radisson Hotel on February 14. The panel will also include discussions on how the digital media and entertainment sector is evolving.
The jury for the festival includes Indian film producer, actor and director Prakash Jha, Nepali actress Gauri Malla, President of the International Federation of Film Societies João Paulo Macedo, film producer and curator Yuni Hadi and Manju Kumar Shrestha, one of the oldest cinematographer working in the Royal Nepal Film Corporation for past 20 years.
For the short films and documentaries segment, poet, photographer and documentary filmmaker Anomaa Rajakaruna has been appointed as the head of the jury. Rajakaruna will be supported by Thibaut Bracq who has been involved in the field for over a decade. The final jury member is Karun Thapa, a Nepali film editor and 3D animator.
Besides the movie screenings, the festival will also host a forum where the Bollywood filmmaker Jha will give a master class in filmmaking and Nepali superstar Rajesh Hamal will talk about his journey.
The festival will also give out awards on the international segment like the Gautama Buddha Award (Best Feature Film), Bagmati Award (Best Live Action Short Film), Mt Everest Award (Best Documentary Film) and Manjushree Award (Best Animated Short Film).
National awards will also be handed out for the best feature film and the best short film. Along with that, awards for best direction, best cinematography, best actor and director.
The festival will also screen two Nepali independent films Kopila which deals with mysterious rape case Of Nirmala Panta and Bardiya Sundari which focusses life in Far West Nepal.
International films to watch out for at NIFF:
The Composer, China
The Composer is adapted from the true story of the well-known Chinese musician Xian Xinghai in Almaty. It features the Great Patriotic War, in which the main character Xian is on a mission to compose the score for a documentary film in the former Soviet Union using an alias. As war breaks out, he is stranded in a foreign land with the longing of getting back to his motherland.
Midnight Song - Assam, India
Mou is a quiet housewife stuck in an unhappy marriage with her husband, Bikramjit. For years, she has held her tongue and served him, and in return, he has been ungrateful and rude. Mou and Bikram take a trip to their bungalow in the country. What starts out as a normal night takes a strange turn when an unexpected visitor shows up. Mou and Bikram give the visitor hospitality, and as Mou talks to this newcomer, she begins to realise that there is more to life than her selfish husband and unhappy marriage. The events of the night unwind alarmingly—one person becomes a murderer while another becomes alive for the first time in years. Mou is faced with a decision when the morning comes, and her entire world changes.
Other Half - Sri Lanka
In a rural village in Sri Lanka, a family well becomes poisoned by agricultural chemicals. This subsequently leads to the untimely death of Ruwansiri's father who develops chronic kidney disease, leaving his mother works to support the family. At school, he struggles to understand his lessons in a rigid educational system that cannot go beyond rote learning. As an escape from the toxic environment around him, Ruwansiri finds solace in music. Can his passion help him overcome his circumstances?
Biryani - Kerala, India
The movie chronicles the life of Khadeeja, a married Muslim woman confined within the four walls of the household, forced to conceal her desires in the name of religious and societal norms. When fate brings her to an abandoned life, she chooses a different way of financially and sexually liberating herself-to be a sex worker; soon to realise that her soul is still dissatisfied. Finding a new way of hope, she decides to give back to the forces that pushed her to live an orphaned life of humiliation and misery. Shot in various regions spread across Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the movie captures the essence of life from a conservative, religious and rural background. While these places are representative of areas where such stories might still exist, the movie does not push the audience to see it as a regular event in these places.