May 27, 2024

Nabin Subba‘s “A Road to a Village” is a stark look at the damaging effects of galloping modernization in rural Nepal.

The film had its world premiere at Toronto and is playing at the Busan International Film Festival in the ‘A Window on Asian Cinema’ strand. Subba is a renowned chronicler of societal change in Nepal and his previous work includes “Numafung” (2001), which won an award at the Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema, “Goodbye Kathmandu” (2017) and documentary series “Dalan” (2008).

Written by Subba and Mahesh Rai, “A Road to a Village” follows skilled bamboo weaver Maila, whose placid life changes when a road connects their remote village to the nearest town. Particularly affected is his precocious seven-year-old son Bindray who is suddenly exposed to a world containing Coke, sunglasses, mobile phones, televisions and hip hop. The spark for the film came 25 years ago when Subba met a fearful young migrant worker on a flight to Europe, sparking his curiosity about why people leave their homes for laboring in foreign shores.

“Nepal’s development has been manipulated by politicians, leaving poverty and rural labor markets unchanged. This film sheds light on these issues. It aims to immerse viewers in local culture and experiences while sharing the untold stories of marginalized communities in developing countries,” Subba told Variety. “It offers insight into why Nepalese people seek opportunities abroad and takes viewers on an emotional journey through their experiences.”

“I hope the film raises thought-provoking questions about progress, cultural preservation and an individual’s quest for meaning and belonging. I aim to encourage viewers to reflect on their own relationship with tradition and progress and contemplate the complexities of navigating a world that constantly challenges our identities and values. On a broader scale, I hope the film sparks socio-political discussions about how modernization impacts on indigenous communities,” Subba added.

The film was financed using the community funding model. “Financing independent films in Nepal is challenging. Relying solely on foreign funding and grants isn’t sustainable and film producers and financiers in Nepal are often hesitant to finance independent films due to the associated risks. This is why I believe the community funding model is the way forward for Nepal’s small film industry. When a community finances a film about itself, it becomes personally invested in telling its own story and maintains ownership within that community. This approach enables more communities to share their stories without restrictions,” Subba said.

The filmmaker says that the film attracted significant sales interest in Toronto. After its Asian premiere at Busan, the film will next have a South Asian premiere followed by a theatrical release in Nepal. International rights are currently represented by production umbrella Menchhyayem.

Subba is now commencing pre-production on a film about Nepal’s caste system, focusing on the Dalit community with a view to filming next year.

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