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Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez
Nepal, USA 2013 / 118’

A treat for fans of the films of James Benning. In addition to him, the filmmakers mention Sharon Lockhart, Pedro Costa, Robert Gardner, and Abbas Kiarostami as the source of their inspiration. Following last year’s Leviathan, this is another movie that refers to the tradition of film structuralism, an experimental work produced by the Sensory Ethnography Laboratory at Harvard University. A 16 mm camera was placed inside a cable car that pilgrims use to travel to the Hindu temple of Manakamana in the Himalayas in Nepal. The structure of the film consists of a number of static shots of the route taken by both humans and animals, each of which lasts for 10-11 minutes. A wide variety of people appear in the frame, always posed in the same way, with a panorama of the mountains extending in constant motion behind them. Using the tools of film, young researchers Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez look at the relationship between the esthetics of social life and art, and at local responses to changes brought about by global technological progress.

Agnieszka Szeffel


Locarno IFF 2013 - Special Jury Prize in Filmmakers of the Present, Special Mention for Best First Feature Film, Independent International Film Critics’ Award for Best First Feature

Stephanie Spray

Stephanie Spray (US) is a filmmaker, photographer and anthropologist who explores the confluence of social aesthetics and art in everyday life. She is a PhD candidate at the Sensory Ethnography Laboratory at Harvard University. Since 1999, her main research subject is Nepal, where she partly resides. She documents the results of her studies in different media, one of which is film.


2007 Kale and Kale (short)

2008 Monsoon-Reflections (short)

2010 As Long As There’s Breath (short)

2013 Manakamana (co-dir.)

Pacho Velez

He has a passion for unconventional cinematography. His love for experimenting was already apparent when he graduated from California Institute of the Arts in 2010, and it led him to the Harvard Film Study Center. Pacho Velez's work sits at the intersection of ethnography, structuralism, and political documentary. Though shot in different countries, using distinct formal strategies, his films share a preoccupation with local responses to broad changes wrought by globalization. 


2001 Occupation (short)

2003 Orphans of Mathare

2010 Bastards of Utopia (short)

2013 Manakamana (co-dir.)

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Cast & Crew

director Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez
screenplay Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez
cinematography Pacho Velez
editing Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez
sound Stephanie Spray
cast Chabbi Lal Gandharba, Anish Gandharba, Bindu Gayek, Narayan Gayek, Gopika Gayek, Khim Kumari Gayek, Chet Kumari Gayek, Hom Kumari Gayek, Simen Pariyar, Anil Paija, Saroj Gandharba, Bakhraharu, Mithu Gayek, Isan Brant, Mily, Lila Gayek, Bishnu Maya Gayek, ‘Kaale’ Dharma Raj Gayek, ‘Kaale’ Ram Bahadur Gayek
producer Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel 

production The Sensory Ethnography Laboratory
sales Stephanie Spray
language Nepali, English
colouration colour