Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival 2017
Event Type:
Film Festival
14-18 December, 2017

First Prize International Competition

Dhaulagiri, Ascenso a La Montana Blanca (Dhaulagiri, Ascent to the White Mountain)

dir. Guillermo Glass & dir. Cristian Harbaruk | 72 min | Argentina 2017

In the spring of 2008, four Argentine climbers — Guillermo, Christian, Sebastián and Darío — attempted to shoot a documentary climbing Mount Dhaulagiri. They never imagined that one of them, Darío, would disappear during his solitary attempt to summit the mountain. Nearly eight years later, still tormented by Dario’s death, Guillermo sets out to complete the unfinished documentary. With the original adventure not turning out as they had envisioned, Guillermo is now faced with questions of losing a friend. What went wrong? What were they seeking in the first place? How did they make individual decisions when faced with life-and-death situation? These questions drive Guillermo from his home in the Chubut Province of Argentina to Buenos Aires and Salta, where his other two surviving friends reside. Alternating between the grandeur of adventure and the intimacy of retrospection, this is a story of the path that winds upward, twists downward and leads inward.

Second Prize International Competition

Sherpa Stew

dir. Andy Cockrum | 80 min | USA/Nepal 2016

Mountaineers Nima Dawa Sherpa and Kipa Sherpa have been to the top of Mount Everest. But now they strive for a new life in New York City. They are among thousand of other Sherpas in the city who are hard-working immigrants, some of whom are driving cabs, some selling imports at street market stalls and some chopping vegetables in the kitchens of Asian restaurants. The lives of these Sherpas offer a fresh perspective on the immigrant’s journey.

Third Prize International Competition

Singing with Angry Bird

dir.Hyewon Jee | 88 min | South Korea 2016

Korean opera singer Jae-Chang Kim’s quick temper has earned him the nickname Angry Bird. Five years ago, he started the Banana Children’s Choir for kids living in the slums of Pune, India. Seeing the effect the choir has had on the kids, he sets out to involve their parents by training them for a joint concert with their children. But with the parents struggling to make ends meet and working all the time, they have a hard time seeing the value of the choir, which often drives Kim to despair. Even for those parents who manage to participate, finding the flair for concert singing provides its own challenges. The film follows Kim through this journey till the final concert as it documents the contrast between the verve of choir music and daily life in the slums.

Special Jury Mention

Mama (Mum)

dir. Wojtek Kozakiewicz | 45 min | Poland 2017

Kinga Ociepka-Grzegulska is one of the most important figures of the last two decades in Polish sports climbing. She is now a mother of two kids. After twenty years of living her passion, she has set herself a new goal of climbing the route that no woman has ever done before.

Special Jury Mention & Audience Award

The Last Honey Hunter

dir. Ben Knight | 35 min | Nepal 2017

In the mist-shrouded mountains of Nepal’s Hongu River valley, the Kulung people carve their lives out of the land and practice an ancient form of animism structured around the god Rongkemi. There you will find a wiry and unassuming man named Mauli Dhan Rai, who is believed to be chosen by the gods for the perilous rite of honey harvesting. The extraordinarily dangerous task involves climbing rope ladders up sheer cliffs to cut down combs made by the world’s largest honeybee (before collecting the poisonous honey within). It is a spiritual pursuit soaked in myth that the Kulung people believe taps directly into the gods. But with roads, new technologies and market forces encroaching, it may not be around for long.

ICIMOD Mountain Film Award

Sponsored by ICIMOD

Kahan Ka Raasta (At the crossroads)

dir. Savyasachi Anju Prabir| 48 min | India 2017

Nestled in the Himalayan range of Uttarakhand in India, Kalap may soon have a motorable road. Till then the village continues to be ten kilometres uphill on foot from the nearest road. The film delves into the lives of the people of Kalap, who for generations have been negotiating their own path for sustainable living. With increasingly easy access to the world beyond, how will their social and cultural values be transformed? Going on an immersive journey in time and space into the everyday reality of Kalap, the film transpires at the pace of the village life in order to unveil its many facets.

Nepal Panorama

Best Fiction

Jaalgedi (A Curious Girl)

dir. Rajesh Prasad Khatri| 14 min | Nepal 2017

In a remote village in Mugu, Jaalgedi is taking out her family’s animals on shepherd duty. But the arrival of a foreign tourist sends all the children of the village in a frenzy. The inquisitive little girl gets distracted from her responsibilities for the day and unwittingly allows disaster to befall her family.

Best Non-Fiction

Sponsored by Film Development Board

Gyalmu’s House

dir. Asmita Shrish & dir. Gavin Carver| 18 min | UK/Nepal 2016

In 2015, an earthquake of terrible power devastated the Langtang Valley in Nepal, taking hundreds of lives. A year later, Nima Gyalmu, a woman of extraordinary strength, dignity and humor, rebuilds her house in a remote and shattered part of Langtang, while trying to come to terms with her new reality.

Special Jury Mention

Jha Lo
(Year of the Bird)

dir. Shenang Gyamjo Tamang | 19 min | Nepal 2016

A troubled young monk Tashi is sent to a retreat center far from his monastery with his master Paljor. The old monk is dealing with his own sense of guilt and anger. At the retreat centre, the lives of the two troubled monks get entangled, as their find their inner conflicts reflected in each other.

Nepal Film Critics Award

Blood Road

dir. Nicholas Schrunk | 96 min | USA/ Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos 2017

Ultra-endurance mountain bike athlete Rebecca Ruscha hopes to find the site where her father, a US Air Force pilot during the Vietnam War, was shot down more than 40 years ago. She is accompanied by Vietnamese cyclist Huyen Nguyen, and together they pedal 1,200 miles along the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail through the dense jungles of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. During this poignant voyage of self-discovery, the two women push their bodies to the limit, learn about the ‘Blood Road’ and reflect on how the Vietnam War has shaped their lives in different ways.

Festival Juries

Joanna Croston

Joanna Croston grew up and went to university in Eastern Canada, but it wasn’t until she moved to the Canadian Rockies permanently in 19978 that she really got schooled. In 2007, after a few years working as a gearhead in some local climbing shops, she finally found her dream job that merged mountain culture with her love of outdoor pursuits when she began working for the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival. She has been the Programming director of the Festival since 2014. She reads more than 70 mountain literature books and watches 350 mountain films annually. In addition to being a voracious reader and film enthusiast, she is an avid backcountry skier and has skied throughout North America, the Alps, Kashmir and the Indian Himalaya. As a climber she has summited many of the classics 11, 000 ft. peaks in her own backyard of the Rockies. Her writing has appeared in Highline Magazine, Gripped, The Canadian Alpine Journal and Alpinist. She also serves on the Mountain Culture Committee of the Alpine Club of Canada and is a representative for the International Alliance for Mountain Film.

Kesang Tseten

Kesang Tseten’s documentaries have been regularly screened in Nepal and at International film festivals such as the International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam, Leipzig International Documentary Festival, Yamagata, Thessaloniki, Krakow, Viennale, the Margaret Mead Film Festival. We Homes Chaps (2002), On the Road with the Red God: Machhendranath (2006), We Corner People (2007), Who Will Be a Gurkha (2012), and his trilogy of films on Nepal Migrant workers in the Gulf have won wide recognition. His most recent films are Trembling Mountain (2016), about the earthquake survivors of Langtang rebuilding their destroyed village, and Hospital, about a rural state-run hospital in one of Nepal’s poorest districts. Tseten has been the recipient of grants from Busan, IDFA and the Sundance Institute for his films. He wrote the original screenplay for the feature Karma (2006) and Mukundo (2000), which was Nepal’s entry to the Academy Awards. Before filmmaking, Tseten was a writer and associate editor at Himal Magazine. He is a graduate from Dr. Graham’s School in India, Amherst and Columbia University in the US.

Reena Mohan

Reena Mohan is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker and editor who has worked out of India, Dubai, Kathmandu and London. She has received several awards for her work including three National Awards (as producer, director and editor). She graduated from the Film & television Institute of India, Pune in 1982 with a specialization in editing and since then has edited several features, television serials and over 50 documentaries for leading producers and directors. She produced and directed her first award-winning documentary Kamlabai in 1991. This was followed by more than 10 documentaries that have received widespread recognition including Skin Deep (1998) and On An Express Highway (2003). She has conducted workshops on documentary practice over three decades in leading educational institutes in India (FTII, SRFTI, NID to name a few) and was also the Course Coordinator at SAE, Dubai. She has served as jury member of several prestigious International film festivals in India and abroad. As a curator, she has been associated with several film festivals and also Co-Director of the IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival, New Delhi, from 2010-2012. She was also the Managing Trustee of the India Chapter of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) from 2012-2015.