We often hear inspiring and uplifting stories of women who are breaking barriers and beliefs to own their story, to be someone, and to live life on their own terms. In one corner of our world, a young woman is cutting across her lack of opportunities, education, societal barriers, and a violent husband to become an inspiring role model.
Director Sue Carpenter and co-director Belmaya Nepali takes us on her journey in a biopic that closely reflects the plight of hundreds of thousands of Nepali women across the country. ‘I Am Belmaya’ is a documentary film that tells the story of a Dalit Woman in the caste hierarchy system of Nepal. A film about an oppressed girl who faced struggles and hardships deprived of parental love and proper schooling.
The film opens to images of a beautiful Nepal and a 14-year-old Belmaya full of life and mischief despite her brutal reality. At nine, the youngest child of a poor Dalit family was orphaned and ended up in a girl’s home in Pokhara. When Director Sue Carpenter visited Nepal in 2006, the young Belmaya received the opportunity to hold a camera, and a turning point in her life.
Her camera was snatched away from her by those who were meant to support her, but like every other oppressed Nepali girl, she accepted it as her fate. The film then shows her at 21, married and a mother. This is when Sue returns to Nepal after eight long years of knowing Belmaya. The girl Sue knew was absorbed by the camera with an outspoken spirit and ability.
Belamya once again gets the opportunity to hold a camera and enrolls into the filmmaking class. But her spirit is battered by an abusive husband, and a society that diminishes her dreams as being frivolous.
The documentary takes you on Belamaya’s journey of trials and triumphs. There is a strong sensitivity in how the film has been captured. It concludes on a note of hope and the never-ending quest for freedom. It is an intimate journey of a filmmaker who broke barriers to claim her life.
(The documentary film, ‘I Am Belmaya’ was screened at Pauline’s Rooftop, Kathmandu on March 9 in the presence of two influencing creators Belmaya Nepali and Sue Carpenter.)