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Text by: Urna Bajracharya
Susana San Juan Lopez is Frencxican (French and Mexican), and a self taught filmmaker and photographer. Her father, a Mexican painter, inspired her in many ways, to become the artist she is today.
She is working on a short film called Blink where she mostly uses dance as the medium of expression. She uses dance to explore culture because it is not only visually beautiful but it can connect across cultures. Suasana came to Nepal with a keen interest in learning more about Shamanism.
Before coming to Nepal, she was planning to be a Sociologist, but when her friends told her about a shaman called Mohan Rai, she was deeply intrigued. This trip allowed her to discover her true calling. The moment she decided she wanted to pursue filming, she got hired by a director from the UK. They started filming all the festivals in Nepal. They went to villages filming and meeting Shamans. Photography brought her happiness and Nepal gave her inspiration. She instantly fell in love with Nepal’s unique blend of beauty and chaos.
Susana has also studied photography on her own. Initially it was a hobby, but after she came to Nepal, she decided to do filming full time. She took pictures on the streets, learning from mistakes and growing with the sheer passion for the art.
Susana is bit by the wanderlust. Travels to know her horizons, to become more aware of who she is, and the possibilities the world has to offer. A gypsy at heart, she is creative, beautiful and a warm human being. Excerpts of a conversation:
What are some of your favourite things to do here?
Ummm. Actually I like everyday here. Every day is something crazy but in the most simple ways. When you are walking in the street in Naxal early morning you see this pooja going on in the middle of traffic, you don’t see that in France. So that is the thing I will miss, the spirituality which is a part of the public space. The public sphere is totally melted, immersed in spirituality here, that is what I will miss the most.
What influences your work?
In Latin America, there is this cultural stream called magical realism. It was practiced more in Columbia, but then it spread all over Latin America, mostly Mexico. Garcia Marquez is the one who created this state of mind. Magical realism is when magic is part of your daily life. When the invisible world like ancestors, or ghosts, or fantasy world like chicken being able to talk… (laughs) those type of things. That’s magical realism! When magic is part of your daily life, and that totally influences my work. That’s why Shamanism attracted me so much. And that’s why I felt so at home in Nepal because in my culture it is also common to worship our ancestors. I know that in Nepal it is the same thing and we pray for our ancestors every day. We go to church, ask our grandmother or whoever, please protect me, and we think about them and we are very close to our older members of family too.
Your theme for Blink is What makes you happy… what makes you happy?
I think I like to be a woman. It’s like… it’s a struggle. In filmmaking it’s not easy to be a woman. They do not believe you are able to do things so you have to prove yourself and only then maybe they will work with you. But I like that the more you are able to struggle, the more you are able to do things. And in a way, women embody beauty also. What really makes me happy is to be a woman traveler.
What would you suggest for those who want to venture into filming?
You have to take risks for sure. You don’t know whether it will work or not. It’s challenging. The material is very costly. What I would say is: Trust your gut, if you feel the need to do something, just go for it and take the risk, follow your passion, follow your dreams, whatever happens.
How does Shamanism feature in your work?
It’s connected. Not in the subject of my work but it’s what I am interested in. Things that are out of our reality, the unconscious world, the dream world… I want to think that there is part magic here also… We are protected by something for sure.
What inspire you to do more?
Actually living in Nepal makes things easy for me because when you are in the street everything is a little story in itself. When you see women working with heavy loads on their heads building houses and wearing all this jewelry at the same time, or even in the rice fields … my imagination just takes flight. I also went to India to study yoga.
If you could have superpower what would it be?
I think I would love to fly
Would you prefer being a broke artist or an ordinary millionaire?
I am attracted to money because money gives freedom. That’s the reality! I don’t like the idea of being a broke artist totally desperate and only having dreams. So, I think I would love to be a successful artist with a lot of money.