Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2019: Panchayat to represent Nepal

- Timothy Aryal

Sep 21, 2018-

Panchayat, a historical drama set in the Panchayat era, will be Nepal’s contender for the Academy Awards Foreign Language Oscars race. The film was written and directed by Shivam Adhikari.

Set in the mid ‘30s, Panchayat, which released nationwide in March, tells the story of the head of the village Panchayat (played by Saroj Khanal), the person in charge of the village’s administration, who is proven guilty of a crime he commits. The film revolves around this psychological turmoil that the head finds him in.

The film was selected out of three submissions, which included Samten Bhutia’s war drama Tandro and My Love Promise for Kathmandu. Last year’s entry, Deepak Rauniyar’s White Sun, was selected out of only two, the other being Nabin Awal’s sci-fi drama Bijuli Machine.

The films were judged by a panel comprising Pradeep Kumar Upadhyay, Lakshmi Nath Sharma, Rajendra Shalav, Samipya Raj Timalsena, Lokendra Parajuli (Kapeel) and Chiranjivi Guragain.

Chiranjivi Guragain, the secretary of the Foreign Language Oscars Selection committee, said that it was rather ironic that even though the notice was made public months prior to the selection, only three entries were submitted as possible nominees to contend for the prestigious award.

“Most of the producers are well aware that their films won’t make the final cut,” Guragain told the Post, “A majority of mainstream cinemas released commercially do not match the level of storytelling and technical finesse that we seek. The screenplay happens to be rough, the continuity of the scenes and the transition—and other rudimentary cinematic grammar—is often ignored.”

“But we have to choose one anyway,” Guragain went on, “We’ve selected Panchayat this year. It is definitely better than the other two submissions.”

Nepal started sending its films to the Oscars since 1999 starting with Eric Valley’s Caravan. The film had made it into the final five of the contest and that is the only achievement Nepal has to boast so far.

Director of Panchayat, Shivam Adhikari, said that he was assured from the get-go that Panchayat would do good.

“What I wanted to tell with Panchayat was a story that every Nepali needed to know. The collective conscience of that period was seldom explored in cinema and would make a good story,” Adhikari said adding, “Our mainstream cinema is flooded with formulaic films and I wanted to  do something better. Panchayat might not do well commercially, as was the initial thought, but it will be received well critically. That’s how I convinced the producer.

“Panchayat might be a story from Nepal but the emotions it invokes are universal. I am sure that the judges will be moved by the story.

And if that happens, we might just make history.”

Secretary of the selection committee, Guragain said, “though Panchayat is better than the other submissions, we really don’t have much hope that it will make into the final five. The best it can do is go through to the second round. We have suggested the producers to improve its sound design and other technical shortcomings before submitting it to the Academy.”

Published: 21-09-2018 08:54

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