View the 2 min Trailer
I Am Belmaya is an 81 minute documentary, 14 years in the making, following uneducated, orphaned Belmaya's struggle for independence and to have a voice.
This film has been largely a labour of love and persistence. We're on the final leg of the journey - the post production is complete, we have the most beautiful soul-searing original soundtrack. Now we need funds to bring the film to the global public.
This isn’t just about one film. It's about the bigger picture of women’s place on this earth. It speaks to all women around the world who have been silenced and disregarded. Belmaya is already inspiring those women to stand up and speak out. We aim to encourage and train more women to tell stories from their perspectives, which is a key way to bring real change to patriarchal societies. This is your chance to be part of it.
How it all began, in 2006
This is very much a personal project for me. I first met Belmaya in 2006, when she was 14 and living in a girls' home in Pokhara. After a childhood beset with tragedy and hardship, she was a star student of the photography project I led, My World My View. Through the viewfinder, she glimpsed a better life. But an unhappy marriage and further struggles ensued.
In 2014, Belmaya embarked on her filmmaking training, not just to learn skills but to take charge of her life. I Am Belmaya follows her on her path to empowerment, optimism and strength. And success - Belmaya has triumphed by having both Educate Our Daughters and her second film Rowing Against The Flow, about boatwomen's struggles in Pokhara, selected for Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival, in December 2017. Educate our Daughters has gone on to win awards and take Belmaya to places she never dreamed she would go.
Positive outcomes for Belmaya
‘I learnt to use my brain more because of filmmaking,’ says Belmaya. ‘If I stay in one place, it wouldn’t make a film, because you have to keep your eyes open all around you. So I applied what I learnt to my life.’
We travelled to Belmaya's childhood village in the foothills of the Himalayas, and created a pop-up cinema to screen Belmaya's graduation film, Educate Our Daughters, to her family, friends and neighbours. It was a magical evening, with Belmaya's family finally understanding and celebrating her mission to film and tell powerful stories of women's struggles and triumphs.
Number one priority for Belmaya is to make sure her daughter has a good education - although, sadly, that has been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. But from September 2020 Bipana has been back in school part-time, virtual learning - which is also giving her vital computer skills.
'I used to be a different person,' says Belmaya. 'I've changed a lot. Because of filmmaking, my inner strength has grown.'
Social impact for girls in Nepal
With its themes of women's rights and empowerment, standing up to domestic abuse and education for girls, I Am Belmaya will have real social impact beyond the film itself, inspiring and empowering other women to stand up to injustice and to dare to be ambitious.
* We will take the film on tour to remote areas of Nepal, to inform, enlighten and inspire communities, with Belmaya as an inspirational speaker.
* We will partner with charities on fundraising and advocacy to amplify their campaigns supporting girls and women.
* In partnership with GlobalGirl Media UK and local organisations in Nepal, we will train more Nepali women in digital media skills, to tell their stories from their point of view. Hearing more of their voices in the media and through films, is the key to shifting public attitudes.
It is vital that I Am Belmaya and Educate Our Daughters continue to create ripples in society, sparking transformation. Help give women a voice, and bring change to the old patriarchal society in Nepal!
Huge, heartfelt thanks for your support for me, Belmaya and girls in Nepal!