The second feature from Nepal’s Min Bahadur Bham, “A Year of Cold,” has been offered up for co-production at Locarno’s Open Doors Hub. The director’s coming-of-age debut, “The Black Hen,” hit Venice Critics Week in 2015, taking the Fedora Award. It became the first Nepali film to premiere at that festival– and was Nepal’s entry in the 2016 Oscars race.
Nepal-based Shooney Films, who produced Bahadur Bham’s debut as well as Rajesh Prasad Khatri’s “A Curious Girl,” a Grand Prix winner at this year’s Berlinale Generation KPlus, is back to produce “A Year of Cold.” The company is also developing Abinash Bikram Shah’s “Season of Dragonflies,” which scored the CNC Prize at Locarno’s Open Doors Hub in 2016.
A female-driven survival road movie, “A Year of Cold” evolves against the backdrop of the world’s Himalaya roof and a strong patriarchal, rural environment. The feature turns on a pregnant Tibetan female refugee, who is forced for legal reasons to find her missing husband. She will be accompanied by her de facto husband, her legal brother-in-law.
“It’s about love, marriage, and sacrifice, where a girl faces multi-layered complexities and struggles for her identity and a safe home –all the struggles that Nepali women go through for a better life, and to fight against a patriarchal society,” Bahadur Bham told Variety.
Developed at Cannes’ Cinéfondation Residence in Paris, the Tibetan/Nepalese-language “A Year of Cold” received script development funding from ACF, Busan International Film Festival, and won an Sorfund Award, an invitation to the Norwegian South Film Fund’s pitching forum.
The visual approach will “be made up of gritty close-ups slowly evolving to stark wide shots, with the aim of capturing the psychology of the characters in conflict with themselves and rural society,” the filmmaker said.
The film will be shot on location in the high Himalayas, with a “meditative” direction as well as visual simplicity and lyricism, linking to the spirituality of the people and the land,” he added.
Set during the 1996-2006 Nepalese Civil War, Bahadur Ham’s debut, “The Black Hen,” weaved humor and calamity together, following two young friends from different social classes who set off to find their missing hen during a ceasefire in Nepal’s Civil War. The film was co-produced by Nepal’s Shooney Films, Mila Productions and Kaldhungi Films, France’s Catherine Dussart Productions and Germany’s Tandem Production. International sales were managed by Wide Management.
“We don’t have any kind of financial support or investment from the government and public sector,” said producer Debaki Rai.
He added that private sector investment in the cinema is also very limited in Nepal. Production usually features “Bollywood melodramatic formula films,” she added.
She went on: “It’s almost impossible to get funding for art house and meaningful cinema. The only way of financing art house and independent cinema in Nepal is through private investment from friends and families.”
Even though it was an arthouse film, “The Black Hen,” is the sixth highest-grossing Nepali film ever in its domestic market.