Kalo Pothi for the Oscars

Min Bahadur Bham’s ‘Kalo Pothi’ (The Black Hen) is Nepal’s official submission for this year’s 89th Academy Awards (Oscars) in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Nepal’s selection committee, headed by Film Development Board’s Chiranjibi Guragain, announced the film’s selection on Tuesday.

The submitted films were evaluated on the basis of their technical making, narrative presentation, characterization and creative merit, Guragain said in the committee’s official statement. ‘Kalo Pothi’, ‘Ko Afno’ and ‘Pashupathi Prasad’ were the only three films competing to represent Nepal at the Oscars.

“This is a proud moment and I feel honored to represent my country, Nepal through my film,” Bham, who is working on the screenplay for his next project, told Republica.

‘Kalo Pothi’ is about the friendship of two young boys who are in search of their missing hen. Set in Mugu district of Nepal, the Maoist Insurgency serves as the main backdrop in the story. The two friends encounter the violence and hopelessness brought by the civil war to their small village and come of age during their journey.

32-year-old Bham was born in Mugu. An alumnus of Kathmandu’s Oscar International College, Bham has won fellowships at the prestigious Berlinale Talent Campus and Asian Film Academy at the Busan International Film Festival. His first short film ‘Bansuli’ (The Flute) was screened at the 69th Venice Film Festival in 2012. His feature length debut ‘Kalo Pothi’ is a co-production involving production companies from Nepal, Switzerland, France and Germany, and was made on a budget of 200,000 Euros.

Before its June 3 release in Nepal, ‘Kalo Pothi’ has enjoyed a successful run at the film festival circuit. It had its world premiere in the Venice International Film Festival’s Critics Week in 2015, where it was rewarded the Fedeora certificate for best film by the Italian film critics’ society. It became the first feature film from Nepal to be selected for the festival. From Venice, the film traveled to major film festivals like Busan International Film Festival, Warsaw International Film Festival and Goa International Film Festival.

International reviews for the film have been favorable. Hollywood Reporter’s Clarence Tsui appreciated ‘Kalo Pothi’ for its “stirring performance” and described the film as “an effective showcase of a filmmaker in flight”. At home, the film was warmly received and has gone on to do successful business.

Out of the total submitted films, the Academy will shortlist nine features through preliminary voting. The shortlisted nine features will further go through two staged voting process after which a final list of five nominees for the Best Foreign Language Film category will be announced on January 24, 2017.

The 89th Academy Awards is to take place on February 26, 2017 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

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