Cannes: Nepali cinema has announced its arrival on the big stage with a first-ever competitive entry at the Cannes film festival.
‘Lori’ (Melancholy of My Mother’s Lullabies) directed by Nepali filmmaker Abinash Bikram Shah is part of the short film competition section of the Cannes festival. The Kathmandu-based Shah’s film is among nine films from around the world vying for the Palme d’Or for the Best Short Film.
‘Lori’, selected from 3,507 entries from 140 countries, is the first Nepali film to compete at the Cannes festival, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The 14-minute film explores social evils under a patriarchal society in Nepal.
“In Nepal, which ranks amongst the Asian countries with the highest number of child marriage, the problem is enabled and nurtured by its patriarchal society,” says Shah. “The patriarchy is so deeply rooted that even women, who are themselves the victims of this very system, fail to recognise the problem, and are often tricked by the society into inadvertently helping to nurture it,” he adds.
“As a filmmaker, I wanted to present this situation as it is, in its tragic, gritty form. Instead of offering a shallow and idealistic solution, I wanted to show how dark the reality is,” explains Shah, whose previous works in the short format include ‘I Am Happy’ (2011) and ‘The Moon is Bright Tonight’ (2018).
The short film competition jury headed by Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah will announce the winners on May 28, the closing day of the festival.
Besides ‘Lori’, Shah is also present in La Fabrique Cinema mentorship programme in the Cannes film market with his feature film project, ‘Elephants in the Fog’. Produced by Underground Talkies Nepal, an independent film production in Kathmandu, ‘Elephants in the Fog’ is based on the true story of the disappearance of a transgender woman a few years ago.
“We actively partner with the new generation of filmmakers who strive to tell local stories that are original, bold and authentic,” says Underground Talkies Nepal founder Anup Poudel. “I also intend to analyse why and how a marginalised person, after fighting with the whole world to finally live their truth, would spend their entire life trying to fit in and be accepted by the same society that rejected them,” adds Shah.
‘Matrubhoomi (2003) and ‘Anwar’ (2007) director Manish Jha’s ‘A Very Very Silent Film’ was the last Indian film to compete in the short film section in Cannes in 2002. The film went on to win the Jury Prize.