Nepalese filmmaker Veemsen Lama - from battlefields to red carpets

Interview-based profile

Saturday, 16th January. I’ve just arrived in front of Hackney Picture House, host of the London Short Film Festival this year. The cold winter wind is freezing the extremities of my body while I’m waiting for Veemsen, the film director of MAYA, the BKSTS* Student Best Film of the year 2015 and a Raindance officially selected short film that is to be screened this afternoon. It doesn’t take long before I can see him cross the road, accompanied by two of his friends and collaborators, Tom Cullingham, his producer, and Michael Ling, his sound designer. After some warm greetings, the four of us enter the cinema, grab our tickets and go up to the second floor to find screen 3 and sit in the last row of the room. The show is now not late starting. Among the seven or so short films of the screening, the three young men are obviously all waiting to see their work on the big screen again. ‘MAYA is about survival, hopes and dreams’, Veemsen explains to me.

Shot in Nepali language, MAYA tells the authentic story of three homeless children, who escape from the slave traders and find themselves penniless, wandering in the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal, with only their hopes and dreams of happiness. After the screening, Arran Green, the director of photography for the short film, recalls that ‘Nepal is a fantastically vibrant country. It’s bursting with life and colour.’

Nepal. This is exactly where Veemsen’s own story starts. The now 35-year-old man, with an olive skin, a three-day beard, almond-shaped eyes, and a casual outfit, grew up in a middle-class family. Very early on, Veemsen developed a passion for storytelling, notably thanks to various cult films. ‘My child influence was Hollywood. I used to watch all Hollywood’s films, action films, like Bruce Lee films, Jacki Chan films, and like Jean-Claude Van Damme films — big fan of Van Damme — Arnold films… We used to go see Rambo as well.’ He adds: ‘I really want to go to Hollywood one day and make a film.’

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Marie Dubreuil

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