I was honored to be a guest commentator for the Bay Area Premiere of The Secrets of Radha / राधा, directed by independent filmmaker Subarna Thapa. Radha won the Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Feature awards at La Femme Independent Film Festival in Cannes, France. I was also happy to reconnect with my former student in Kathmandu, Sahaj Shrestha, a professional journalist who is now living in the Bay Area.
While Radha has been lauded as a woman-focused film, the film is also a critical commentary on the migration of Nepalis to work abroad, and in this case, Doha, the capital of Qatar. According to Global Voices, in 2022 over one million Nepalis work in Middle Eastern countries, and Nepalis make up 12.5 percent of the Qatari population. Radha’s story is set in these precarious conditions of migratory labor, with symbolic overtures to the conditions that cause out-migration and the importance of women’s roles and strengths given these circumstances. The cinema of migration is by-and-large one that is materialized through many brave acts on part of the filmmakers and their teams to tackle one of the most challenging crisis that humanity must grapple with today. I applaud Subarna Thapa and his team for their courageous efforts in the production and distribution of Radha. The film continues to screen across the U.S. at various independent theatres and community centers. For screening updates visit https://www.facebook.com/tsormovie.
The past few days of Nepal-themed screenings also allowed me to get back in touch with my former students in a class I taught on Alternative Documentary Filmmaking during my artist-in-residency from 1999-2000 at AAVAS in Kathmandu, Nepal. I found that one of my students, Manoj Pradit, is not only making social justice films but also published a book सिनेमा मन्थन / Cinema Manthan about the thematic and philosophical aspects of cinema.