‘Baato’ presents overlapping stories that focus on everyday Nepalis who live along the route of a planned highway – a vérité document of a time and place that records life in the Himalayas before a new highway to China forever transforms this roadless landscape. All donations are tax deductible.
About The Project
Shot over a nine-month stretch in the dramatic landscape of the Himalayan foothills, ‘Baato’ immerses its viewers in the sights and sounds of life in eastern Nepal. This feature length vérité documentary film follows five stories of Nepalis who live and work along the route of a highway-to-be.
[foot path – before the road]
WHY THIS MATTERS
‘Baato’ will examine the complexities of development and globalization on a micro scale.
People and communities are adapting to the presence of roads as assimilation into the global
economy comes ever closer. The new roads will bring a perceptible shift in the cultures and
practices of this ethnically diverse region. As traditional arts and local knowledge start to diminish, the very nature of the hillsides in Nepal will change.
[new road construction in the Arun River valley (eastern Nepal)]
To the locals the new roads coming into the hills represent hope for a brighter future, reducing transportation time and increasing access to healthcare, education, and goods. But a sustainable vision of this future remains a blurry notion. The fact is the roads can bring things into a region just as swiftly as they can take things out. We ask what this means for cultural practices, local economies, and biodiversity of the area.
Nobody else is chronicling these changes taking place in this region of the world, much less taking the time to reflect upon what these changes mean for the future of the area. “Baato” will serve as an important document of a landscape and people in flux. When we were on the road, in the villages, along the steep mountain trails filming we often commented on how it almost felt as if we were living in another time, separated from the 21st century of the outside world. New roads are closing that gap and this film captures and encapsulates this transitional period in the Himalaya. ‘Baato‘ will fuel the debate surround development and globalization, and it will open up a dialogue both within Nepal and around the world regarding infrastructure building in the developing world.
‘Baato‘ (n. [Nepali] 1. path, trail 2. road) presents five overlapping stories that focus on everyday Nepalis who live along the route of a planned transnational highway. Through the character’s experiences a document of a time and place emerges – one that details life in the Himalayas before this new highway to China forever transforms this roadless landscape.
[Sumjok (purple headscarf) surveys the scene of the road construction]
‘Baato‘ is a visual feast – a journey through the heart of Nepal. Comprised entirely of vérité footage, the film reflects the intimate access we had with the characters of the film. Audiences will be transported and lead along the route of a coming highway by a mule team driver, a teenage villager, a bus employee, a mother on seasonal migration with her young family, and a road construction worker. Each character has his or her own set of challenges to overcome, but all are bound together by a connection to the land that they traverse.
[production still of Kate (far left) at work on the film, circa 2015]
FUNDING & PROGRESS TO DATE
‘Baato‘ was funded in part through the Fulbright program, as well as through the generous contributions of a small number of private supporters. We were able to spend nine straight months in Nepal producing the film and returned to the US in the summer of 2015. The earthquake that devastated much of central Nepal on April 25th, 2015 jolted us as it did the entire country, but it did not put an end to our production. We continued shooting and captured our final story of the film in May of 2015. All of our footage is “in the can” and we are well on our way to a rough cut of the film.
[four of the five characters in our film, clockwise from top left: Mikma (carrying load), Abiral, Limbu, Kaji Ram]
We have managed to get this far by keeping our team lean and keeping our overhead expenses very low. Since returning to the U.S. we have worked diligently on this film. Now we need push into high gear, and make a final concerted effort to finish the film. This is where contributions from you come in. With the money raised through this campaign, we will be able to bring on the post-production crew and afford the services that are desperately needed to get this film ready for the public in a timely way.
And even if you can’t contribute right now, please support us by following our page and sharing this project with others. If we get 1000 followers, we will become eligible for significant rewards from Seed&Spark.
**All contributions are tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor, Documentary Education Resources. They will send you a letter detailing your contribution for tax purposes at the start of 2017.
We are counting on you!
A heartfelt thank you,
Lucas Millard and Kate Stryker