WOW | Coffee Break

WOMEN FILMMAKERS – Documenting Life

Women documentary filmmakers: Asmita Shrish, Prasna Dangol and Rewati Gurung talks to WOW about their inspiration, challenges and projects that are close to their heart.

Rewati Gurung

Rewati Gurung a social worker, film maker and entrepreneur found her passion for filmmaking after taking part in Her Stort- a filmmaking workshop for women. Her films portray ordinary yet inspiring lives of Nepali people. Her first movie “Rajowati” explores lives of women in rural areas the after earthquake, their life and  their struggles. It was screened as a part of #Nomorelimit, a short film competition, where it garnered a lot of attention and praise. She is the founder at Moving Mountain Pictures.

What drew you to documentary filmmaking?

The work of researcher and documentary filmmaker are very closely related. Both must have a clear picture of what is told by respondents and portray it as realistically as possible to the audience. Working as a researcher in remote communities in Nepal, I would hear stories, which I could visualise as a documentary piece. During the earthquake of 2015, I got involved in relief works and took teas to hospitals in Jorpati. Later I established an NGO; Moving Mountain Nepal. I witnessed that even short mobile videos which were uploaded on social media created a heavy impact. It raised a lot of awareness globally. I realised documentary films are powerful and started my company – Moving Mountain Pictures. In 2017, I was the Assistant Director at Film South Asia in Kathmandu. This gave me a chance to meet filmmakers from all over the world, giving me a further push to venture into documentary filmmaking.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I would say the Poverty Alleviation Fund, World Bank and Japan Social Development Fund project: Making markets work for conflict-affected in Nepal. It was a big project with 10 documentary films and a book, with a lot of responsibility, and impossible deadlines. The challenges really helped me grow as a filmmaker. Also, I would say winning the KIMFF Doc Lab Pitch 2018 Award for Monkey Business was a big deal for me. Although the film is still in the pipeline, I am super excited to work on it.

How do you generate ideas for documentaries?

Until now Drichu, Monkey Business and Rojowati all came out of my research work. Also, each story inspires another, so in some way, they are all related.

Tell us about Drichu?

I was a customer of Drichu brand. I loved the quality and style of the clothes. I was curious about the woman behind the brand. There was a competition for a short documentary on sustainable development; hence I thought would be interesting. Drichu has proved that there are many opportunities in Nepal; we just need to find it.

Filmmakers who have inspired you…

I would say, Werner Herzog. He does not have a list of questions to feed his interviewees, but instead gives them time to naturally open up. The result is exquisite and genuine. It engages the audience on a profound level.

A project close to your heart

My first fiction film Rajowati is very close to my heart. It was dear to me because of the issue. It is a true story which revolved around a girl, tradition of chaupadi and the earthquake. It won the Title Award in the Asian University for Women Film Fest 2017 in Bangladesh.

Advice to upcoming filmmakers

Just do it. Be original, trust your instincts, and do not fall into the box of technical formulas.