A Screening at Kumari Hall — 09.12.2016

(Text and photographs by Veneeta Singha)

The year 2016 is drawing to a close. If I were to think of a new year’s resolution for 2017, it would be to watch many more insightful documentaries such as the ‘Daughters of the Curved Moon’. To take time out from the schedule and traffic-jam ridden world. To take more heed of the warning signs that signal towards our collective peace of mind. To learn about being a daughter of the curved moon.

Sophie Dia Pegrum and Miranda Morton Yap’s blindingly truthful account of women’s lives in Jumla is among the key documentary films presented in this year’s Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival. I watched the first screening this afternoon. Needless to say, women’s issues have not found any relevant, centre-stage, discursive space in our current mayhem of demagoguery. And women’s lives in Jumla do not make for good headlines nor eye-grabbing titles. Certainly.

But hope, too, is in the detail. The cultural modes of Nepal’s hinterlands are visual. They are inherited. They are also, intrinsically, what we, in the lower regions, find inspirational and a rare challenge of understanding. The terrains pose a dilemma. Having modernized and returned the global village back to its own devices, a young Jumla woman’s story can ignite our senses and affections. First, as a return of the true native. Second, as a return to true nature. The protagonist, today, exhibited a confused, shifted, surreal paradigm that has become an overwhelming expression of modern-day city existence. Ah, Pissaro!

The centrifugal role of food and community in rural life as depicted in ‘Daughters of the Curved Moon’ elicited guffaws from us all. The picaresque was framed, narrated, pictured and complete. I did not watch the full film. I am trying to remember why. Congratulations to Sophie and KIMFF. Endeavors in storytelling reach epic virality these days but rarely enable such epic awareness. A jacket-clad, English-speaking change agent of Nepali society reached Jumla and, then, she spoke of family, education, farming, social change and hardship. There was even a rabbit for the people of Jumla.

(Scenes from ‘Daughters of the Curved Moon’, directed by Sophie Dia Pegrum and produced by Miranda Morton Yap [KIMFF])