Bikrant Shrestha

Established in the mid 2008, Silence Entertainment has already put its mark in the Nepali local scene. Organizing their yearly ‘Silence Festival’ the event has become popular among the youths of our country. The second edition of the event will take place on October 15 at the Jawalakhel Football ground. By opening up our scene to bands like Vader, Silence Entertainment has revolutionized the local scene today. We got a chance to take a brief interview with the founder/owner of ‘Silence Entertainment’, Mr. Bikrant Shrestha.

How and when did the idea of establishing ‘Silence Entertainment’ come to your mind?

Actually, Silence entertainment came to my mind around 2005, when I was still in Europe and was involved in a band. As being around in a musical scenario, I met lots of musicians and people in music business, who helped me in establishing our silence entertainment. My vision was and still is to improvise something different in the entertainment sector. SILENCE, which visualizes on maximum creativity, has come a long way to describe the virtue of entertainment in a whole different aspect.

How is it doing?

So far so good.

How is the response of the people it is directed at?

The response so far has been very good. You will see the difference in couple of years. Everything takes time and every good thing happens over time not overnight.

Why did you choose to invest so much in this field?

We haven’t invested so much in this field. What we have done is, analyzed and prepared a long term investment in order to bring the best performances all the way.

How has silence entertainment managed to get hold of bands like Vader, for the Silence Festival?

There are lots of band in hold of Silence Entertainment. We have many international bands that we hold on as an official booking agent for the Asian region. We are glad that we have Vader this year playing at the festival. Helmut from Switzerland, Innerguilt from Lebanon and mighty GUIDO WYSS.

How significant is the Silence festival for the local scene?          

Very significant. We are trying to bring the best of the both world by bringing local and international bands together in the same stage at the same day, which I believe has never happened before. Every good local bands will get the opportunity to play at the festival. We only promote original bands and no cover. So, yes, get ready for the next year’s Silence Festival. I want more bands to come on the stage.

Tell us a little bit about ‘Tone Music Store’.

TONE MUSIC STORE- one of a kind music store in Nepal, bringing only the good and affordable instruments. We not only sell instruments but also conduct workshops, clinics and lots of different musical sessions. One of the great Swedish guitar players ‘Mattias Eklundh, is coming here this 31st October at Tone music store to demonstrate his way of playing. We are also the official agent for LANEY Amplification that Silence Entertainment has recently launched in Nepal.

Do you have any plans of expansion?

Yeah, there are lots of plans of expansion. We will let you know when time comes.

You’re engaged in a band called ‘Underside’, tell us a little bit about the band.

UNDERSIDE is a modern Rock N’ Roll metal band with complete originality and completely crazy. We are playing at the silence festival this year, so stay tuned. We will also soon be releasing our EP and we will probably be playing at the festival ‘Boulevard des jeunes’ in Morocco next year and probably couple of dates in Europe. We have a facebook page where you get the other information about the band.

What are your future plans?

There are many but not to reveal, yet (Laughs)

Is there anything you would like to say at the end?

No yesterdays are ever wasted for those who give themselves today. One day at a time.


Cinnamon Grill Lounge – Try It. You’ll Like It

When Cinnamon opened for service two years ago, it was capable of grabbing my attention immediately. However, for one reason or another I never stepped in, until last month.

The name itself is enough to alert all your senses for good food. And it serves nothing less than that. Moreover, the place has a fabulous ambience, inside and out. When I say ‘out’, I mean it. It is the hidden side of the restaurant at the back with a small garden, which many may not be aware of. The interior is done in dusky orange, copper brown and a golden yellow; Cinnamon being the entire theme. Just like cinnamon, the restaurant gives a sweet and savoury feel. It is warm and welcoming. The lounge is spacious and yet gives a cozy comfort feel, many wish for. It is superb to catch-up with your pals and rock to some live music.

But the best part of being in Cinnamon is the food. There is nothing better than a plate full of hot, delicious, aromatic food to dig in to. We had the kitchen’s special, Pork chops and Buffalo Chicken Wings. The generous pork chops were tossed in spicy barbecue sauce and served with a big dollop of mashed potato and buttered vegetables. The meat was tender, juicy and the sauce over it made it picture perfect. The mashed potato was pretty good. It wasn’t buttery smooth but had even seasoning.

The Buffalo Chicken Wings are fried chicken wings tossed with fried garlic, hot sauce and rice wine vinegar. The serving of wings was a humble amount, crackling on the outside but soft and juicy on the inside. Here, the sauce is undoubtedly the hero of the dish. For drinks, we were served a mocktail named Pussyfoot. It is a lady’s drink, meant to be real smooth, refreshing and ofcourse lady-like. Well, it wasn’t the best drink I ever had, there was nothing really exceptional about it.

Dessert was definitely my favourite part of the entire meal. The Banana Split looked beautiful and it was worth the price. Overall, it was a satisfying experience. When there is music in the air, a cool drink to sip on and delicious food, what more can one ask for, for less than Rs.1000? It is one of the coolest hangouts in Patan and you wouldn’t want to miss it.

Telling Stories : Kesang Tseten

Film Southasia is an organization which has been supporting and showcasing Southasian documentaries since 1997. The Film Southasia festival is held every two years where the best documentaries of the region are screened. The eighth edition of the fest is to be held from 29th September to 2nd October 2011, here in Kathmandu. ‘Saving Dolma’ a documentary from Kesang Tseten is one of the 36 films participating in this year’s festival.

Kesang Tseten is a filmmaker based in Kathmandu and has been making documentaries for more than a decade now. The award winning writer and director has made documentaries like Saving Dolma, We Homes Chaps, In Search of the Riyal, We Corner People, Lepchas of Sikkim, Listen to the Wind, Frames of War and Machhendranath.


We Homes Chaps was featured in Film Southasia’2001 and now ‘Saving Dolma’ is     participating in Film Southasia’ 2011. As a nonfictional filmmaker what sort of challenges did you face over the last decade in this genre of filmmaking?

Kesang Tseten: So were, ‘In Search of the Riyal’ and ‘We Corner People’.  The biggest challenge is the filmmaking itself: how to find the right treatment for the particular subject that means knowing what and how to film, and how to edit, in the shaping of a film. The subject is different each time, with its own discussion, your own understanding and feelings about it, so how to find the film, to tell the story, is the challenge that returns each time.

Do you think that Film Southasia has succeeded in popularizing documentaries in our region?

Kesang Tseten: Definitely.  Both Film SouthAsia and Kimff, both spawned by Himal Association, as well as other smaller festivals have been significant and instrumental, in expanding the audience and taste for documentaries

Your films ‘In Search of the Riyal’ and Saving Dolma’ tells the stories of migrant workers in the Gulf.  Explain their influence upon you.

Kesang Tseten:  It is basically a David and Goliath story, where people ‘and poor people ‘go to the richer powerful country; they both need each other, but the rich one can play off the poor more than the other way around.   However, it is more complex as there are many shades of good guys and many shades of bad guys.  We can’t demonize ‘them’, the Arabs, or whatever, as a lot of problems are rooted here itself, caused by manpower agents, government policies, the wages here, one’s own people or even relatives.  Many have a hand, and so it is a challenge to show these realities accurately.  How to show these and not distort or misrepresent or be unfair to anyone; how not to be simplistic: So I’m influenced by peoples’ stories and experiences that point to a web of complexities that pervade the phenomenon of migrant workers. I guess empathy for these common people is the constant feeling while making these films.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced while making ‘Saving Dolma’? When did you first hear of Dolma? When you first met her did she readily agree to let you film her story?

Kesang Tseten:  The challenge was the difficulty of access, to Dolma, to the women working in Kuwait, as I couldn’t go there.  So I had to depend on footage that was gotten by other people, some of which was very good, but they too had limited access.    Also, how to tell a story using the single example of Dolma, sentenced to death and sitting in death row (subsequently, her sentence was commuted); how to tell such a complex and personal story without delving too deeply into the personal, and how to make it work so it conveys the general condition of women domestic workers.

Documentaries normally do not achieve commercial success. Have you ever thought of making mainstream commercial movies?

Kesang Tseten:  I would love commercial success but it’s not why I make documentaries. I make a livelihood, so I consider that good going, doing what I like and getting paid. I have thought of making a feature – let’s not say mainstream commercial films – but when I finish a documentary, the next one somehow seems to loom, so I continue. But even there I wouldn’t do it to get commercial success because it isn’t that easy, for one. I would do it to try a different form, but only if I had a story I absolutely liked. That aside, I don’t see documentary as an inferior form or something you do as a rite of passage before making a feature. That notion isn’t valid. It all depends on how well you do it, how satisfied you are rather than the idea that features are a higher form than documentary

How have you been managing the funds for your films?

Kesang Tseten:  I have been lucky to get funding regularly for all but one of my films. The Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) has been very good, Helvetia’s, too, in funding the films and giving me a free hand to do it anyway I see fit. That kind of freedom is rare. I have also gotten grants from the The Jan Virjman Fund and the Pusan International Film Festival which are given on a competitive basis.

Has the audience of documentary films grown over the last 10 years? Do you use facebook or other social media to reach your audiences? How can they get access to your films?

Kesang Tseten: I’m sure the audience has grown, thanks to several film festivals (FSA, Kimff, some others and lots of opportunities for screenings, but it would be wonderful if television slotted documentaries on a regular basis, real documentaries, not reportage and news features. They do but we have to pay for it at present. Then it would reach a huge audience.  I don’t use social media all that much except to put up notices for screenings. I guess I’m not such a great marketer.

What inspired you to follow the lesser popular style of filmmaking? Are there other filmmakers who inspire you?

Kesang Tseten: I don’t know what is popular and what isn’t. I think about my subject, film in a way that I think is suitable, or often, I don’t have a plan but film as a way of research, and then see how to solve the puzzle, of finding the best vehicle for the material.  Most times, it’s the material that suggests the form.  There are lots of inspirational figures such as, these days, Frederick Wiseman, who makes long observational films about American institutions (Titticut Follies, Near Dying, High School), the Maysles (Salesman, Grey Garden), Erroll Morris (The Thin Blue Line, Gates of Heaven), Ross Mcelwey (Sherman’s March, Time Indefinite), and many more.

Three other films from Nepal have are being showcased in the upcoming festival. Have you watched those films? What is your opinion of those films?

Kesang Tseten:  I haven’t watched the other films from Nepal and don’t know about them.

What is the condition of independent filmmaking in Nepal? Do the independent filmmakers of Nepal meet and exchange ideas on a regular basis?

Kesang Tseten:  Independent means different things at different places.  If you mean, a film’s content and form that is produced free from sponsor’s interest, I think that is happening, to some extent but not a lot because there isn’t funding to support that, and also our capacities.  We tend to be influenced by the issues that have funding interest, which is to be expected as who can make a film out of his or her own pocket, but that’s the situation. That and the fact that we are fairly new to this kind of expression, or not as developed, given the lack of practice and experience.  We tend to know each other, filmmakers, that is, but there isn’t a thriving discussion or scene going on, I don’t think. I suppose it will happen when we are ready for it.


KIMFF-Going on Tall and Strong like the Mountains It Talks About

What do adventure, culture, religion and snow have in common? Here’s a clue- it begins with an ‘M’ and ends somewhere about 8848 m above sea level. Mountains have shared an intricate relationship with human beings from their effect on the geography of their being to their effect on aesthetic activity. While human beings have explored, probed, reached and ‘conquered’ mountains or parts of them, they still stand among us- vast, obscure, enigmatic and even intimidating. However, if the mention of mountains were in our prayer flags during ancient times, they are now in little guidebooks for tourists, in a trekker’s bag pack, a voyeur’s blog, or on a painter’s canvas. Our relationship with the mountains is getting woven into more complex patterns as the tapestry elongates. Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival (KIMFF) has been examining these patterns and celebrating its diversity since the year 2000.
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KIMFF, organized by the Himal Association, started out as a non-competitive film festival held every two years. Since the year 2006, the festival promised to happen annually. Today it serves as a melting pot for the likes of filmmakers, activists, journalists, critics and both film and mountain enthusiasts. A non-profit organization, it has had four film festivals to its credit that involved alpine documentation, archival footage, adventure cinema, experimental shorts, commentaries, anthropological narratives, and feature films to name a few. To date, it has explored mountains, its community and their culture to bring about films that portray and deal with issues as far and broad as cultural practices, lifestyles, conflict, wildlife, mountain-climbing, environment, globalization, and gender. KIMFF screens films, organizes workshops, lectures and discussion forums and photo and book exhibitions related to mountains.

KIMFF does not just intend to provide a platform for filmmakers; its mission is far more broad and versatile. With the belief that ‘human experience in the world’s highlands, especially those in developing countries, is worth documenting and sharing’ KIMFF intends to put forward the reality of these communities, culture and thus create a sense of understanding and significance. It intends to see development and social transformation through the use of films and thus the exposure.

Every year, KIMFF invites filmmakers to enter the competition for the film festival. This year they received 240 entries from 52 countries. A 10-member jury has been viewing the films and 45-50 of the best films will make it to the next round. The directors of the best three movies are to be awarded $1500, $1000 and $500 respectively. The Nepal Panorama winner takes home Rs. 25000.The list is due this October. We all wait eagerly.

Verse talked to Ms. Ramyata Limbu, the director of KIMFF since 2000 about KIMFF and her experience as a filmmaker. She has co-produced the independent documentary ‘Daughters of Everest’ and ‘The Sari Soldiers’, a documentary feature that follows six Nepali women on the forefront of the Maoist conflict in Nepal.

Who or what inspired you to join filmmaking?

As a professional journalist I learnt about different issues. I like travelling, researching and learning. Thus, it was actually a natural progression from print journalism to filmmaking.

What do you think about the documentary making scene here? Just give us an overview?

Since the past decade, filmmaking has grown over time due to cheap technology like the internet and camera. Younger people are getting into filmmaking out of interest and passion rather than because they have the skills to do so. It is important to have passion but it is equally important to have the technical know-how to really make a difference.

Tell us about your experiences as a female filmmaker.

I don’t think gender really affects filmmaking. However, as a woman, I identify with subjects of women. It was why I decided to follow women who were on their way to climb Everest for a documentary. It was also why I focused on women during the conflict in my other documentary.

Travelling KIMFF

Along with the upcoming KIMFF 2011 (8-12 December), the organization with the cooperation and the support of Embassy of Finland and Federation of Nepalese Journalists district chapters also have organised the Travelling KIMFF this year. The Travelling KIMFF plans to visit different towns in Nepal including Panchthar, Ilam, Myagdi, Nawalparasi, Arghakanchi, Dadeldhura, Baitadi, Doti and Kailali. The idea for travelling KIMFF is to encourage intercultural interaction and sensitivity towards the need to preserve the mountain community, essence and the cultural diversity.

Verse talked to Mr. Basanta Thapa, chairperson of KIMFF about the Travelling KIMFF. Basanta Thapa, also a Board member of the Himal Association has headed the organization since 1998. He is a former editor of the Himal bimonthly and a former columnist for Himal Khabarpatrika, the Nepali fortnightly.

First of all, tell us about your experience with KIMFF, and its progress since it was last conceived.

KIMFF has grown in size and stature since 2000. We have shifted our venue from the Russian Culture Center to bigger venues like the auditorium of the Nepal Tourism Board. The ancillary activities like workshops, exhibitions, lectures also draw a lot of people. We generally have a full house.

In these years we see more Nepali viewers than foreigners, when it used to be the expats and tourists who used to outnumber Nepali viewers before. It is good to see that the interest in Nepali people is growing. Our target is the youth, so we send out invitations to colleges and schools. We also receive a lot of interest from outside the country. Last year we had 61 countries plus Nepal participating.

The experience is gratifying because we had a very modest beginning.  Our biggest obstacle was and still is funding. We have no permanent sponsors therefore every event requires starting afresh with searches for sponsors. In other countries, the government forces help cultural events like these which is not so, unfortunately in the case of Nepal. Perhaps it is our inability to convince the government that films can be a good means to educate people. We are passionate about KIMFF, which is why all of us are doing it voluntarily. Our commitment is due to the belief that it can only grow, drawing inspiration from our previous performances.

Two years ago we were featured in Time magazine. Also, we were recruited to the Finland Mountain Film Alliance. This recognition is indeed very gratifying.

How did the Travelling KIMFF happen?

We did not want to be Kathmandu centric. We decided to put all the best films or even just the relevant ones in a package, looked for funding and set out.

How is it different from the usual KIMFF viewers or simply, the viewers in Kathmandu?

We have been instrumental to many Nepali documentary makers. Also, we have a group of ardent viewers in Kathmandu. The regular faces always turn up. In the other districts, it is a new thing which makes it naturally different compared to showing it to people who are aware of what they see or what to expect. We hope to inculcate a group of people among the many viewers who might be deeply touched or inspired.

Since this is Tourism Year 2011, how do you think KIMFF helps it?

We do intend to focus on Tourism this year. We have people coming to Kathmandu from other cities in Nepal. As for international tourists, we have about two dozen who fly in just for KIMFF which, I would say, is quite an achievement.

Tell us more about Nepal Panorama. Why this platform?

In 2007, we went competitive. We had many movies coming in and we had pre-selection and short-listing before they went on for screening. It was then that we understood that Nepali doc-makers could not compete against the foreign ones due to obvious reasons. We wanted to provide them with exposure and encourage them to continue, which is why we chose 30 movies for the Nepal Panorama section. It has been very helpful. Some of our filmmakers have been contacted by Festival Directors from Finland to be a part of their film festival. Also, there are other people who scout for talent which provide the Nepali filmmakers with a lot of opportunities.

Films to be screened at the Travelling KIMFF:

1. The Broken Moon (55 min/ Brazil): won first prize in KIMFF 2010
2. A Little Bit Mongolian (55 min/ Australia): won second prize in KIMFF 2010
3. Waiting for the Snow (40 min/ Morocco)
4. Saving Dolma (57 min/ Nepal)
5. Pooja (58 min/ Nepal)
6. Puneko Pant (34 min/ Nepal)
7. Darka Aasuharu (32 min/ Nepal)
8. Birami Sahar (75 min/ Nepal): won best award in Nepal Panorama Section