Interview with Filmmaker Manchhiring Tamang (A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A HIMALAYAN SHEPHERD)

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A HIMALAYAN SHEPHERD was the winner of BEST FILM at the August 2019 Documentary Short Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Manchhiring Tamang: My motivation to make this film roots from my familial and cultural ties to the village. I was born in the village and grew up surrounded by shepherd practices and as I grew older I saw the apparent changes to shepherding practices due to modernization. While I still resided in Nepal, I was very involved in the media and would conduct research and write articles on the indigenous peoples of Nepal. This further influenced my decision to make this film as I would like to share to the world a practice that may not be so popularized in media but is still captivating to learn about before the practice may potentially die out. I hoped my film would preserve a slowly vanishing profession.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

I first conceived this idea after a worrisome conversation with my grandfather ten years back. He was telling me shepherding is slowly dying off as more and more people go abroad. Forward to 2018, I had settled in America and become somewhat financially stable in order to pursue my dream. With the support of employers and friends, I went to Nepal and completed the project within a month.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Culture preservation.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The biggest obstacle that I faced in completing this film was the weather conditions. The weather would constantly going from clear skies and sunny to cloudy and rain. This made it very hard for us to have an on-track shooting schedule since the weather could change on us anytime.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

The audience feedback for my film made me feel very grateful. I am thankful that so many people enjoyed the film that I hoped would preserve my village’s dying custom. I am feeling very motivated by the feedback and for receiving ‘best film’. I hope to continue with filming and produce more films.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Ten years ago, my then 98 year old grandfather and I had a conversation about the dying custom. Because I had ties with the media, in that moment I thought a great way to preserve this custom for future generations would be through a documentary. Ever since then I had always wanted to make a film on shepherding practices.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I watched a Nepali movie from 1991 called “Chino”. It was the movie of the year and I watched it six times.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I believe FilmFreeway is a golden platform. It allows small film makers to screen to an audience in order to get feedback. Just being able to screen my film to an audience is something I am very grateful for.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I must have listened to Nepali classical singer Narayan Gopal’s song “Kehi Mitho Batagara” the most times in my life. A true love song.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Next for me is another film on the story of a migrant from Nepal. I am creating this film to explore the American dream he and millions of others have.

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