Save Gangamaya, a documentary about a Nepali woman who has been fighting to get justice for her teenage son who was killed by Maoists, will be screened at Gyaan Adab, Kalyaninagar on June 30. Nepal-based filmmaker Gopal Shivakoti describes his documentary as “about a wonderful mother that the world’s mothers can be proud of”. In June 2004, Gangamaya Adhikari’s son was kidnapped and shot dead by a group of Maoists in Chitwan in Nepal.
Running from pillar to post for years, to bring her son’s killers to justice, Adhikari and her husband Krishna Prasad decided to fast unto death in October 2013. Following government assurances, the couple broke their fast on the 47th day, but their demands were unfulfilled and they resumed the fast within a few days. The couple was admitted to Bir Hospital in Nepal. In the 11th month, Krishna Prasad passed away as his body was no longer able to absorb food which he was being forcefully fed through a pipe.
The government stepped in with assurances and Gangamaya agreed to discontinue her strike. However, by August 2016 Gangamaya had not received the justice she sought and she resumed her fast, only breaking it a month later after being persuaded by the activists and lawyers who were supporting her. Talking about what triggered the decision to make the documentary, Shivakoti says, “Gangamaya’s decade-long struggle for justice and rule of law really inspired me to cover her story.”
The film, he says, is a call to human rights activists and the international community to pay adequate attention to this case and to light a beacon of hope for the remaining victims of Maoists. Talking about the process of making the film, Shivakoti says, “I didn’t have to go through any research process as such because Gangamaya and her husband’s case is well-known and has been covered by Nepali and international media. Though I didn’t face any challenges during the shooting, it wouldn’t have been possible to make this documentary if I hadn’t disguised myself as a human rights activist (to record clips for the human rights archive).”
Save Gangamaya has been submitted to more than 300 film festivals worldwide. Among the awards that the documentary has won include Audience Choice Award at Women’s Voices Now 2017 and Best Documentary Feature at DIY Film Festival 2017. Besides, it has been selected for numerous film festivals including Respect Belfast Human Rights Film Festival 2017, “Euro Kino” Czech International Independent Film Festival, Los Angeles CineFest, Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival (TINFF) and The Phoenician International Film Festival, among others.
The film is being screened at Gyaan Adab as part of the non-commercial initiative by filmmaker Yogesh Jagam. Under this initiative, short films and documentaries are sourced and curated every last Friday of the month to bring “good content” to the audience thus connecting filmmakers with the audience. Jagam is also the associate director of Smita Patil Documentary and Short Film Festival.