Making his markSuraj Paudel overcame odds to become the award-winning filmmaker he is today and he is not in the mood to stop anytime soon.
As a school-going student in Tanahu, one of the things Suraj Paudel never missed out on was participating in the annual cultural day programme’s drama act. He was one of those students who would never miss a day of practice, which was held after school at the drama teacher’s home.
Ever since Paudel was young, he loved being on stage and acting. He loved watching movies, which was something his family thought was a waste of time. By the time he was in high school, Paudel had already developed a passion for writing scripts.
In high school, he took up science, and everyone thought that he would go on to get a degree in either medicine or engineering. However, Paudel had different plans.
“After finishing high school, I told my parents that I was trying to go abroad to study, but in reality, I had enrolled at Oscar Film College, Sukedhara, to get a degree in film screenwriting and direction,” says Paudel.
Since finishing film school in 2012, Paudel has been teaching editing, screenwriting, and direction at his alma mater.
In more than a decade that Paudel has been involved in filmmaking, he has worn many hats as a scriptwriter, director, production designer, and editor. He wrote and directed a short film titled ‘One Mole of Water’ (2011), and it bagged the second prize in that year’s Asian Development Bank’s Short Film Competition. His filmography now includes ‘I Am Happy’ (2012), ‘Saas Fere Jasto Lagchha’ (2012), ‘Aama’ (2013), ‘Rasleela’ (2017), ‘Singha Durbar’ (2018), ‘Lori’ (2022), among others.
Since 2012, Paudel has also been working as the coordinator for the annual Ekadeshma International Short Film Festival. He is responsible for checking the quality of the films submitted to the festival.
Having worn many hats in his filmmaking journey, a role that Paudel particularly enjoys is editing. “I believe that every single footage has hidden magic within. As an editor, it is my job to unleash those magic and structure them into a film,” says Paudel.
As a filmmaker, Paudel says his main focus is ensuring that the audience finds his works relevant and relatable. “My story has to make me feel. If it moves me emotionally, it will also move the audience,” says Paudel, who believes that artists have a moral responsibility to use their artistic mediums to create works that have social messaging.
This philosophy led Paudel and his team to create ‘Lori’ in 2022. The film, which revolves around a mother-daughter relationship and delves into the grim realities of patriarchy in the rural south-eastern parts of Nepal, won the Special Mention of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival 2022.
Another recognition that came Paudel’s way this year was when he attended CHANEL X BIFF Asian Film Academy 2022 in South Korea. During his time there, Paudel got an opportunity to work as a film editor with four directors, four cinematographers, and a sound engineer for ‘This Must Be The Place’, a short film. The work bagged him the Most Promising Filmmaker Award. The short movie’s story is set in Busan, South Korea and portrays four amateur cinephiles and their filmmaking adventure.
“Receiving this award has served as a great confidence booster. I am more determined than ever to create short movies that move the audience emotionally,” says Paudel.
Despite being recognised on various international platforms, Paudel says his family still doesn’t understand why he got into filmmaking. “Like many from their generation, my parents believe that one’s success is measured by how much one earns. This is not to say they aren’t proud of me because they are. But they just don’t think what I do is enough,” says Paudel. “This used to bother me immensely, but not anymore. I know what I want in life, and I am content with what I am doing.”
Movies Paudel suggests for those interested in film editing
‘North by Northwest’ (1959)
‘F for Fake’ (1973)
‘All that Jazz’ (1979)