What’s the story?
Set against the backdrop of the new “culture” of organizing bandhs (general strikes) in post-conflict Nepal, HIGHWAY explores five different relationship stories that become connected during an ill-fated bus journey from eastern Nepal to the capital, Kathmandu. When the passengers discover that sometimes wedding parties are permitted through the massive traffic jams caused by bandhs, they devise a plan to stage a fake wedding.
Will the wedding drama help them get through the dangerous bandhs? Some characters are hindered directly by the strike on the road, but every character is affected by it. Their lives are put on hold by circumstances that they have no control over. All they can do is wait, hope for the best, and try to make the best decisions given the circumstances. How will they succeed in fulfilling their goals, and how will their dreams change in a world full of strikes and stoppages where nothing happens as it should?
What inspired HIGHWAY?
In 2009, I happened to do a road trip from east Nepal to the capital, Kathmandu. Our journey was obstructed by three different bandhs, organized by three different groups in three different parts of the country. This is when my colleagues Kedar Sharma and Khagendra Lamichhane and I started talking about the idea for this film, HIGHWAY. I felt that by setting a story against the backdrop of this new bandh culture, I would not only be able to explore physical bandhs, but also explore the mental/psychological bandhs that many of us seem to be facing these days.
Why did you want to make films?
Filmmaking has never been just another profession for me. I have come to make films with an objective. When I first assisted Tsering Rhitar Sherpa for his feature KARMA in 2005, I was working as an editor in a national daily newspaper for the arts page. I often had arguments with filmmakers who furiously called about the bad reviews their films got, as they normally were bad copies of Hindi films. These conversations often ended with them challenging me to make films myself. So I started to get interested in filmmaking. My first and second attempt at making a film on an original subject with a unique style were the shorts CHAUKAITH (Threshold) and POOJA, which earned me some success and encouraged me to make a feature film. I want to contribute to creating a legacy of Nepali films without blindly following or copying Bollywood or other industries. I hope HIGHWAY is a good start.
Where will the funds go?
To the final edit, sound design and online post, which includes the color correct and the sound mix.
What are the plans for the film?
As soon as we finish the edit and music with renowned composer Richard Horowitz, we’re planning to submit the film to major international festivals where we hope to premiere in a competition category. We anticipate a significant Nepalese and wider South Asian release, and are working towards international sales, ideally with VOD/DVD to follow.
PRODUCER/DIRECTOR/CO-EDITOR – Deepak Rauniyar
Deepak Rauniyar first garnered attention with his 2008 short film Chaukaith (Threshold). The film was an official selection of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival - Short Film Corner, and won the Special Jury Prize at the 2009 Ahmedabad International Film Festival and an award at the 2008 Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival. Deepak then directed a short film Pooja, and episodes of an award-winning drama series Sweet Tales of the Sarangi for BBC World Service Trust Nepal.
CO-PRODUCER – Joslyn Barnes, Louverture Films
Joslyn Barnes is a writer and Emmy® nominated producer. Among the films Barnes has produced or exec produced since co-founding Louverture Films with actor Danny Glover are the award-winning features BAMAKO, Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner and Oscar® nominated TROUBLE THE WATER, Sundance Editing Prize winner THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE. She associate produced the 2010 Cannes Palme d'Or winner UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
SCREENWRITER – Abinash Bikram Shah
HIGHWAY is first feature length film of Abinash Bikram Shah, whose recent short Time is… perhaps… won the best film award in India (Kalaghoda International Film Festival, 2010), Bangladesh (Inter-University Short Film Festival, 2010) and Nepal (KIMFF, 2009). He co-wrote the TV series HAMRO TEAM in 2010 and is an alumnus of Asian Film Academy 2008 Pusan and Berlinale Talent Campus, 2010. His short film Ma Khusi Chhu was recently accepted as an official selection for the Pusan International Film Festival (2011).
COMPOSER – Richard Horowitz
Richard Horowitz is an internationally renowned composer and musician. He has scored many feature films, receiving Golden Globe and Los Angeles Film Critics awards for his work on The Sheltering Sky directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Other scores include Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday (BMI Award), Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Three Seasons directed by Tony Bui, and Lakota Woman directed by Frank Pierson produced by Jane Fonda.
EDITOR - Rita Meher
Rita Meher has been working in film and video for over 14 years, making her debut in cable TV as a producer in Japan. She is the founder and director of Tasveer, a South Asian film organization. She is currently editing a feature length documentary on a Bangladeshi Tapestry artist Surayia Rehman called Kantha Threads.
EDITOR - Kimberley Hassett
Kimberley Hassett began her editing career alongside Enat Sidi (Academy Nominated Jesus Camp). She has worked with artists Lawrence Weiner, Kristin Oppenheim and Shimon Attie on various film installations exhibited at the Whitney Museum, Deutsche Guggenheim, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Oslo's Symphony Hall. In 2010 she edited the award-winning feature doc The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan with Henry Corra and Celia Maysles.
EDITOR - David Barker
David Barker is a film director and editor whose films have screened at the Sundance, Berlin, and Rotterdam film festivals as well as numerous international and domestic venues. Most recently, he wrote and directed the New York Times Critic’s Pick Daylight (currently in US release) and edited Braden King’s Sundance competition entry HERE (forthcoming in 2012).
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS – Dr. Sameer M. Dixit & Dr. Lonim P. Dixit
Dr. Sameer M. Dixit is a scientist with a PhD in Biotechnology from Australia. He co-founded and co-runs a biotechnology company (Intrepid Nepal Pvt Ltd) and a biomedical research institute (Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal) in Kathmandu Nepal. Dr. Dixit is also a theater and film enthusiast, and a member of the Nepal British Society Theatre Group - The New Shakespeare Wallahs.
Dr. Lonim P. Dixit is a dental surgeon with a specialty in Public Health Dentistry from London. She is currently working as the Hospital Deputy Director at Peoples Dental College and Hospital and also heads the Department of Community Dentistry. Dr. Dixit is an executive board member of the Nepal Public Health Foundation and serves on the board of Governance of the British School, Kathmandu. She is the former General Secretary of the Nepal Dental Association.
Aadi Productions is a production house based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Aadi’s first film was a short fiction called Chaukaith (Threshold), which deals with an encounter between two women and the empathy they share despite their contrasting life experiences. The film was very well received, and was selected for many international film festivals – winning awards at the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival (2008) as well as the Ahmedabad International Film Festival (2009). The second film by Aadi was Pooja. Produced with the BBC World Service Trust, Pooja is a story about one of life's biggest and riskiest endeavors: childbirth. Told from three different points of view, Pooja received great critical acclaim and is scheduled to be screened in 2,000 venues in the UK and Nepal. Aadi is now working on its first feature film, Highway.
Louverture Films is a New York-based company dedicated to the development and production of films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity. Taking its name and inspiration from the great leader of the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint Louverture - famous for always creating an "opening" in the face of enormous obstacles - Louverture Films partners with progressive filmmakers and producers around the world and particularly from the global South, and pro-actively supports the employment and training of cast and crew from communities of color in the United States.
- (30 days)