Toronto Nepali Film Festival

What to watch at the Toronto Nepali Film Festival

When I think of Nepal I think of Mount Everest and Buddhism. To be honest I don't know a whole lot about Nepal beyond these claims to fame, but in anticipation of the Toronto Nepali Film Festival, I've been brushing up on my Nepalese history. It turns out that Nepal has a broad and interesting history, and fortunately, the selections for TNFF this year exemplify that. In fact, there's only one film about Everest.

The Toronto Nepali Film Festival is actually an impressive project. It's mainly run by the Nepali Student Group, a group of Nepali students from post-secondary institutions in Ontario, and Sanjha Pankha, a collective that promotes Nepali culture in Toronto. Submitted films may be of any genre, and though most participating filmmakers are of Nepali heritage, it's not a requirement. The organizers of the Festival believe the film industry in Nepal has been growing a lot in the past few years and is something that should be shared. Nine films have been chosen for this years festival and they will be screened in two sessions on Saturday.

The afternoon session (11:30-4:00pm), will show five films that deal with poverty and coming of age in Nepal. After two of the films, there will be Q and A sessions with the directors. Pradeep Kumar Sharma will talk about The Rat Hunters, a documentary that follows a five day long bamboo trading journey, and Kesang Tseten will respond to questions about In Search of The Riyal, a documentary that details the lives of the many Nepalese who leave their families and travel to the Arabian Gulf to find work.

The evening session, (4:45-10:15pm) will screen four films that deal with some of the current challenges to social norms and human rights in Nepal, such as women's rights and press freedom. This session will host a Q and A with Hari Thapa, the director of Sherpas: The True Heroes of Mount Everest, a fascinating look at the men who make it possible for Westerners to reach the summit.

Throughout the day there will be Nepalese cuisine for sale--free with a gold pass--and a jury choice award at the end of the day. For those who like to get involved, there will also be two audience choice awards. Last but not least, there will be live Canadian-Nepali entertainment to cap off the night!

The Toronto Nepali Film Festival is a full day event on March 12, running from 11:30am to 11:00pm. Tickets are $10 for the afternoon session, $20 for the evening session, or $25 for both and can be purchased online. Screenings will take place at Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto.

Writing by Casandra Campbell

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