1 minute taster I Am Belmaya
is an 82 minute documentary about a young woman’s transformational journey into filmmaking in patriarchal Nepal. Taking the movie camera into her own hands, Belmaya stands up to oppression and takes charge of her story – and her life.
I have been filming Belmaya from the day she started her documentary filmmaking training in 2014, as she's struggled against the opposition of her husband and society, to her triumphant moment receiving her award for Best Short Documentary at the UK Asian Film Festival at BAFTA in London in 2019.
This film has been largely a labour of love, and I am delighted to have finished the fine cut of the film. Now, I Am Belmaya has been selected for the prestigious Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival this December, and I desperately need finishing funds for professional post production services - original music, sound editing and colour grading. This is highly skilled work that is essential for this film to attract international broadcast or online channels, and reach the wide audiences it deserves.
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.
Original music: £5,000
Sound editing/mix: £10,000
Colour grading: £10,000
(to include mastering for cinema and final deliverables)
NB The original GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign for Production Funds is here
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 an Air Canada Award at Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival 2018, and Best Short Documentary at UK Asian Film Festival 2019.
Positive outcomes for Belmaya
‘I learnt to use my brain more because of filmmaking,’ she says. ‘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.’ She looked at ways to change her own behaviour in an oppressive marriage, which enabled her husband to respond positively.
In November 2016 Belmaya finished making her graduation film, Educate Our Daughters - the culmination of her training, a short documentary about the importance of education for girls, through the prism of her own lost childhood and her high hopes for her daughter, then 4 years old.
At the end of the trip, we travelled to Belmaya's childhood village in the foothills of the Himalayas, and created a pop-up cinema to screen Belmaya's film 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.
Social impact for girls in Nepal
With its themes of women's rights, standing up to domestic abuse, education for girls, and the transformational power of visual storytelling, I Am Belmaya will have real social impact beyond the film itself, inspiring and empowering other women to speak out against injustice and to dare to be ambitious.
In partnership with GlobalGirl Media UK and a local partner, Her Farm Films, we will train more Nepali women in digital media skills, to tell their stories from their point of view.
The mission of Her Farm Films echoes the subject of my film - putting girls behind the camera and mic, to tell women’s stories in the media, from their own persepective, in order to shift 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!