Thumbs Up!

2Imagine being in 23 countries in less than 12 months, spending approximately 2.5 Euros each a day, waiting for a lift for as long as 6 hours in the South-West of France with a thumbs up (sadly you  aren’t lucky and have to sleep on the road for the night), getting a ride with anything that stops to give you a lift, which includes a boat in Senegal;  This is just some of  many exciting stories these two hitchhikers have to tell.

On her way to a festival, Lora Vasileva and her friends gave a lift to a stranger named Evgeni; who had been hitchhiking around his country Bulgaria since he was fifteen years old. Two weeks later, Lora joined him on a worldwide hitch-hiking trip and as spontaneous and unplanned a decision as it sounded then, now she knows for sure that the decision was one of the best she had ever made.

While on their hitch-hiking excursion around the world, I hosted them for two days in Kathmandu before they left for a trek to Everest Base Camp.

Why Hitch-Hiking?

Hitch-hiking has become a way of life for us. We want to hitch-hike all around the world- see every mountain and swim in every ocean. . We believe that hitch-hiking makes you open to everything and gradually makes you flexible enough to enjoy the differences  between yourself and the people and culture you interact with. It’s not just routine holiday travel. Its exploring your inner self and the places you go

What are the countries you have traveled so far?

We traveled along Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Nepal and India. But this is just the start. The list will go on and on.

How did you manage to fund your expedition so far?

Well, we had saved some money from our jobs back in Bulgaria, which was enough to buy us food for a year. We searched for sponsors but it did not work out. But we do get some money through our friends who buy the photos we have taken. And (giggling), we also tried working in France. The job was to pick grapes for a vineyard but the language barrier took the job away before we got it.


So is the language barrier a big problem while you are hitchhiking around the world?

It is a problem, but apparently it’s not a big one. The primitive form of communication such as signs and expression is still helpful when it comes to traveling.  We were offered a lift from some Chinese people in Italy, and it was tremendously difficult to explain to them the simple fact that we were from Bulgaria. On the entire trip we were compelled to use sign language, which was quite confusing but funny at the same time.

Have you ever starved while hitch hiking?

(They look at each other and start talking in Bulgarian) In Switzerland, everything is very expensive. We couldn’t afford to eat anything good there. For a week, we had apples, raw food and seeds boiled in water. And it was only after we got to Germany that we actually had food by spending some money. Do you call that Starving? (I assumed that was a rhetorical question)

So any worst experiences other than that?

Yes. Osman ‘a Rasta man, who invited us to stay at his house while we were in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, turned out to be a very bad person. He convinced us to leave our backpacks in his room for the night, while we slept in our tent on his terrace. The next morning, when we went to get our visas to Burkina Faso, we found out that all our money was missing. After that, we learnt not to trust anyone blindly and we are more careful now. However, we are happy for everything we’ve been through, because without the hard moments we cannot appreciate the happy ones.

Do you miss your family and friends back home?

Lora- I left everyone and everything and started living on the road. Whenever I call my mom, she wants me to come back home. But I have to go on. I need to finish what I have started. I do miss them a lot.

Evgeni – I miss them but not as much as Lora. I lived away from them even when I was in Bulgaria and maybe that’s why i don’t miss them so much.

So you only hitch hike on vehicles?

The main element of hitch hiking is to stop a vehicle, wave hands and smile (with a thumbs up). As simple as that sounds, it requires a lot of patience. We hitchhike in any vehicle that stops. We avoid aeroplanes and trains but on rare occasions when we have no other choice, we have to pay to travel.

How did you find Nepal different from the countries you have traveled so far?

We came to Nepal straight from Africa so the differences in culture did stun us for a moment. The first thing we really enjoyed was the Nepali food and of course the beautiful snow clad mountains. Nepal’s atmosphere is filled with an incredible amount of happiness, freedom and greenery. The people are really friendly and always helping us. We didn’t have to face a language barrier since almost everyone here can speak a little  English. Even the villagers can communicate to us easily. Nepal is really special for us! It’s one of the places that will be hard to say goodbye to and we surely will come back again.

What are your further plans?

We will be traveling around India for six months. We have yet to decide our destination after that. We celebrated our first anniversary of traveling around the world on 19th August. We are running out of money so we need to find more jobs on the way.

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Film South Asia

In the most ordinary of times when a good film comes to an end, the audience applauds, the director and the crew steal the limelight and the viewers go home feeling good. Strangely, in this genre of cinema, things aren’t the same because what has been spun out is a good deal of reel, and only reel. Documentaries seem to have a different meaning to its projection of stories, of peoples and of places. If there is a chance to get close with the people, lives, places and reality that you have not seen or met then sometimes documentaries are your only chance. Yet, it is not a daily dose of hard news. Documentaries are real, the set is real, everything projected is raw, the actors are the soul of the stories and the directors have a very complex situation of capturing these moments alive, nothing has changed even after the documentary is over. The protagonist continues to live what he lived inside the camera. There is simply no end to a story of a real person, place, or situation.

Film South Asia, has been promoting some very interesting and important documentaries of South Asian Countries that reflect a variety of aspects ranging from conflicts, social disturbances, and music to politics, events, and sports. With a goal to popularize documentaries so that it entertains, informs and changes lives, FSA brings together film makers in one festival where ideas and concepts are shared and the Non fiction documentaries are exposed to regional as well as international avenues. FSA runs for four continuous days in Kathmandu. The documentaries go through a tough competition that’s judged by a three member south asian jury and the best film gets awarded the Ram Bahadur Trophy along with a citation and a cash prize of USD 2000. The second best film and the best debut film introduced will be awarded a citation along with a cash price of USD 1000 each. The competition is so fierce that many a time the jury is compelled to split the title in between two films.

The FSA this year is slated to take place from Sept. 29 to October 2. Directors, in most of these documentaries, have been remarkably bringing to light the smallest of issues that have been rooted for a national level degradation. Among the four Nepali documentaries selected for the screening at FSA, ‘Journey to Yarsa’ and ‘Saving Dolma’ are directed by Dipendra Bhandari and Kesang Tsetan respectively. ‘Aadesh Baba- So be it’ is directed by Aurore Laurent and Adrien Viel while Stefeno Levi directed ‘Out of the Darkness’.

The FSA, not only screens these documentaries at the festival but also selects around 15 documentaries to travel all over the Subcontinent and the world as the Travelling Film Southasia (TFSA). Hence TFSA has been promoting the skill and potentiality of Southasian people by show casing the stories of this particular region in an international avenue and creating a contemporary subconsciousness among the viewers.

Though Documentaries are gaining popularity among the audience, Kshitiz Adhiraj(Director of Being Me) from Doc school has a different approach and perspective on it. He firmly believes that Documentaries today have lost its original essence. According to him, documentaries should be conceptual and more of an art form rather than being sold on the stories of social imbalances and traumas faced by the poor and suppressed. He believes that the quality of documentaries is degrading with the same old themes being propagandized and repeated over time. That’s why he doesn’t do Documentaries anymore.

Well the cliché of the coin having two sides cannot be ignored. I personally like documentaries since it gives us insight into the entire subject that would never have made an impact in our lives if it hadn’t been captured by the filmmakers. In developing countries like ours, it is one of the most powerful visual mediums to bring the stories that have been overlooked to life. FSA, for the eighth edition of this kind, has been conserving the spirits and dedication of these independent films.

Mark in your calendar that starting 29th September, FSA 2011 is going to screen the following movies till the 2nd of October. You can find the time schedule for the screenings at

  • Aadesh Baba-So Be It, Aurore Laurent and Adrien Viel, Nepal
  • Apour Ti Yapour. Na Jang Na Aman. Yeti Chu Talukpeth, Ajay Raina, India/Pakistan
  • The Boy Mir-Ten Years in Afghanistan, Phil Grabsky, Afghanistaazn
  • Common Ground, Philip Buccellato, Sri Lanka
  • Cowboys in India, Simon Chambers, India
  • The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Tarun Bhartiya, India
  • Dharavi, Slum For Sale, Lutz Konermann, India
  • Director Painter Shri Baburao Laad Saheb, Richa Hushing, India
  • The Dreaming Vendors, Ahmed Abid, Bangladesh
  • I Am, Sonali Gulati, India
  • I Was Worth 50 Sheep, Nima Sarvestani, Afghanistan
  • Inshallah, Football!, Ashvin Kumar, India
  • Ishpata, Afsheen Sajid Ali and Irfan Ali Shah, Pakistan
  • Jai Bhim Comrade, Anand Patwardhan, India
  • Jharu Katha, Navroze Contractor, India
  • Journey to Yarsa, Dipendra Bhandari, Nepal
  • Kerosene, Kannan Arunasalam, Sri Lanka
  • Made in India, Rebecca Haimowitz and Vaishali Sinha, India/USA
  • The Market, Rama Rau, India/Canada
  • Moving to Mars, Mat Whitecross, Burma/Thailand/UK
  • Nargis-When Time Stopped Breathing, Kyaw Kyaw Oo and Maung Myint Aung, Burma
  • Nero’s Guests, Deepa Bhatia, India
  • The Nine Months, Merajur Rahman Baruah, India
  • The Other Song, Saba Dewan, India
  • Out of the Darkness, Stefano Levi, Nepal
  • Partners in Crime, Paromita Vohra, India
  • Pink Saris, Kim Longinotto, India
  • Platform No. 5, Vanaja C, India
  • Saving Dolma, Kesang Tseten, Nepal
  • The Search for Justice, Tehmina Ahmed, Pakistan
  • So Heddan So Hoddan, Anjali Monteiro and KP Jayasankar, India
  • Summer Pasture, Lynn True and Nelson Walker, Tibet Autonomous Region
  • This Prison Where I Live, Rex Bloomstein, Burma/Germany
  • Tres Tristes Tigres, David Munoz, Bangladesh
  • The Truth That Wasn’t There, Guy Gunaratne, Sri Lanka/UK
  • War and Love in Kabul, Helga Reidemeister, Afghanistan

Nepal Cine Symposium – Cinema Through Network

The Nepal Cine Symposium ‘2011 is a film and art event that aims to promote and communicate in those aspects of cinema that are not facilitated by film festivals or by regular aspects of commercial filmmaking.

Designed as an open forum, The Nepal Cine Symposium is an accessible platform with multiple programs under one roof for four days bringing together filmmakers, film producers, film exhibitors and lobbyists together to interact, share information and open global collaboration possibilities with South Asian cinema. Its first venture taking place in Kathmandu in 2011, the symposium, alongside Nepali cinema as a central focus, aims to interact on issues relating to South Asian cinematic growth and the positioning of how regional cinema can proceed in the days to come. The final event will comprehend ideas of a festivalwith various networks gridded together enabling the existence of a larger seminar and a  film market based structure that carries with it various dimensions which can propel overall growth of cinema in the region.

Nepal Cine Symposium is organizing the main film showcase program ‘Something like a FILM FESTIVAL’ which will take place alongside all other activities of the symposium, and is one of the four core programs at the 2011 Nepal Cine Symposium. ‘something like a FILM FESTIVAL’ aims to promote the understanding and sharing of fiction contents from both the visible and the hidden cinema countries of the world; as suggested by the name itself, we believe in the charm and the aspiration of cinema beyond conventions ‘this alone being the main guideline of the festival. The 2011 edition, shall exhibit a wide selection of fiction related feature and short length films finely selected to represent the new global aspirations on fiction film from both professionals and amateur filmmakers.

Lalteen – Short Film Factory

Pawan Tiwari; an ardent communist has lost faith in his surrounding world. A condolence draft about himself enables him to take off in search the other world. While; Suman is in love with her female counterpart Chahana whose recent murder in the shabby streets of Kathmandu is taking time to render. As both desperately seek identity and a space that defines their existence; Lalteen takes shape.

Produced by Harke Films for Short Film Factory, Lalteen is Factories first project and aims a premiere showcase at the Nepal Cine Symposium in November. Lalteen is an amalgam structure feature film that sees two independent film structures directed by Kshitiz Adhiraj and Abinash Shah respectively take on a single form as the two thematically merge. Lalteen, is the first of six films that Short Film Factory has plans to produce between 2010 and 2014, all of which are targeted at promoting discourses on cinema as an art form.

Short Film Factory was initiated as a specific film fund project of Docskool in 2010; facilitated and funded in principal by Harke Films,a production company overseen by filmmaker Kshitiz Adhiraj.The Lalteen project has also been supported by The Goteborg International Film Festival Fund through a seed grant to Docskool. Goteborg Film Festival is considered one of the strongest film funds in the world, while the festival has a very strong Scandinavian presence. Lalteen is expected to make a festival presence at theGoteborg Film Festival later in 2012.

Short Film Factory works as an openly accessibly fund base that supports young filmmakers under the age of 30 who are currently working on their first feature films. Unlike the name, SFF is not involved in funding short films. The fund opens applications once ‘twice a year and supports are provided as production grants with up to 5,000 USD in offer as the latest arrangements.

In 2010, SFF started the SFF 5 rupee cine fund; a venture concept that enables common masses to be involved in the co-production of films. Lalteen is the first of films being funded by mass collection of co-production funds.

Lalteen has an actors ensemble including Prawin Khattiwada, Pooja Gurung, Pashupati Rai, Samuna K.C  mong others. Music to the film has being performed by Kutumba and Bibhusan Basnet. Lalteen should be seen in theatres across Nepal in the summer of 2012. Upcoming screening is at the Nepal Cine Symposium, November 2011. (Dates have not been confirmed) To be involved with Short Film Factory please visit Docskool or