Review: I Am Belmaya | A Powerful Story of a Nepalese Woman’s Fight to Become a Filmmaker in a Patriarchal Society

Written by Malin Evita

With a camera in your hand, you will quickly begin to look at the world quite differently. An itch for observation will start to grow in your mind, and for some, it won’t go away until you start scratching it, digging into the surfaces you see. This was the case for Belmaya Nepali—a low-caste Nepalese woman. In 2006, Global Girl Media’s Sue Carpenter visited Nepal to host her photography workshop, My World, My View. One of the attendees was Belmaya—a fiery teenager who’d run away from her patriarchal village. Seven years later, the now co-directors would reconnect, and I Am Belmaya ensued.

The candid documentary shows Belmaya’s journey as an abused child whose teacher’s told her she had “cow dung” for brains to an award-winning documentarian, advocating for women’s education with her short film Educate Our Daughters. When seeing that a British woman took on the responsibility of telling a Nepalese girl’s story, one might give it a wary look. But let it be known, Belmaya is far from a helplessly observed subject—instead, she is our active storyteller, guiding us through her life with courage and honesty. It’s clear that the film comes from her truth, not a perception of it.

In an interview earlier this year, director Sue Carpenter told Making It: Women in Film this: “One thing I kind of felt, even myself starting off, was that I didn’t understand the depth and breadth of the problems we all face. That the messages have been skewed for so long, that we almost think Oh, getting women into media? Is that worth paying for? What sort of charitable thing is that? What about people who are beaten, or really frontline issues that are urgent? 

But why are women beaten? Because men think it’s okay; because men have the power. If people are getting their messages through skewed reports, it is really really important to be at the root and change those messages, and to get out different voices, representing different people… Everybody is unique – let’s hear all those voices, and at least have 50% of them be women.”

Belmaya Nepali is now one of those voices, and in I Am Belmaya, we hear her loud and clear. So tag along for a profoundly moving, enraging, grounded, and inspiring documentary about one woman with vigorous stamina, determined to change the world her daughter will live in, no matter what it takes—available to rent on-demand from October 15th.

Find your viewing options here and learn more about the project.

Edit: The workshop mentioned was mistakenly listed as taking place in 2009, when it was 2006. Carpenter and Nepali reconnected seven years after their first meeting, not four.

Written by Malin Evita

Evita is the host and producer of the podcast, Instagram curator, and a writer focused on script, cultural commentary, and film analysis. She is a Vocal grand prize winner and recently her HNC in Professional Writing Skills. Through storytelling, she aims to amplify empathy and human connectivity.

Website: | IG: @malinevita

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