Film Southasia '99

Film southasia 2024

Kathmandu | 4 days

At Himal Association and Himal magazine, we started on the road of organising documentary film festivals with Film Himalaya ’94 in February of that year. This was followed by Film Southasia ’97, the first-ever Southasia-wide coming together of non-fiction films. We now proudly present Film Southasia ’99, with a line-up of offering which proves (as the festival T-shirt proclaims) that the Subcontinent is producing “more and better documentaries”.


We were overwhelmed by the response to our call for entries for FSA ’99, in terms of number, variety, as well as quality. Choosing 50 from among the 149 films entered was therefore a challenge for the selection panel, which viewed each of the entries and made its choices on the basis of overall excellence (but also giving some thought to thematic diversity and geographical spread). Of the 50 films being screened at FSA ’99, 43 are in competition, including five short films. 

Among the films being screened, 13 could be roughly classified as social commentary, 10 as reportage, 10 as profiles, six on women and children, five political/ historical, four ethnographic, and four’ others’. Country-wise, 33 films are from India, five from Bangladesh, five from Nepal, four from Pakistan and one from Sri Lanka. India is well represented at FSA ’99, for obvious reasons of size, economy and media evolution, but the selection panel was distressed that Pakistan and Sri Lanka in particular were not producing more non-fiction films. At the same time, it must be noted (and this applies beyond documentary films) that the key to being ‘Southasian’ does not lie in representing the nation-states; rather it is the populated regions of the Subcontinent that does so. Going by this ‘extra-national’ definition of Southasia, we find that the 50 films do a fairly good job of covering the landscape of the Subcontinent.





As organisers, we had made the forceful point during the last festival in 1997 that opportunities for documentary-viewing must be expanded all over. Film clubs, video libraries, theatres, terrestrial and satellite television must make more space for non-fiction, and Southasia already has filmmakers with the skill and commitment to provide informative, interesting and useful productions. In the increasingly laissez faire media arena dominated by accountability to the market alone, concerned Southasians must come together to form a pressure group that demands air-time for the documentary. One cannot wait for the governments(s) of Southasia to act on their own. Continuing our efforts to popularise Southasian documentaries everywhere, this time too we will be sending 15 select films of FSA ’99 all over as part of the Travelling Film Southasia. We were gratified by the reception TFSA ’97 received all over Southasia as well as in the US and Europe, and are confident that TFSA ’99 will contribute even more building a global constituency for the Southasian documentary.

Selections - FSA'99