Nepal’s “Bhunte” marks the feature debut of Bikas Neupane, who previously directed two acclaimed shorts.
The project has been selected for the 21st Hong Kong — Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), the project market that operates concurrently with FilMart (March 13-16).
The film will follow 12-year-old Bhunte, who lives with his poor father and mother in a small village called Khahare, located in Nepal’s western plains. He has an obsession with soccer, despite his asthma-stricken father’s objection. One day at school, Bhunte vows to buy a soccer ball of his own when his classmates don’t let him play with them.
“The story of ‘Bhunte’ was written with the village of Gaughat in mind, where my parents migrated from the hills and where I was born and raised by my grandparents. I grew up listening to their stories, going out in the river, cycling to faraway markets and playing football [soccer] until dark. But when I turned 12, my family moved to the town for a better lifestyle and there ended my childhood,” Neupane says.
“With time, I moved from the village to the town and then from the town to the city. The city pulled me into the world of theater and films. I started acting in theater and making films with my friends. I started learning to write scripts. That was when I decided to write a story based on my childhood memories, and so I went back to my village. It had already been 10 years since I left Gaughat,” Neupane adds. “‘Bhunte’ is a family drama film, and explores a child’s love, desire and despair. As a filmmaker, I want to present my collection of memories of the village, the children and their dreams, and the events that I have experienced firsthand in my childhood.”
The film is being produced by Govinda Prasad Khanal for his and Neupane’s Kathmandu-based company Hamrobox Entertainment.
“I first met Bikas in 2010 and we both have been working together for the past 12 years. Around 2014, I went to visit his village with him where he told me the story of ‘Bhunte.’ I was drawn by the story as we both had similar childhood experiences,” Khanal says. “‘Bhunte’ is a story of a bittersweet relationship between father and son. The story shows the warmth within conflict in the family, carrying the true essence of a Nepali household. In addition, the film also explores the challenges and obstacles that Bhunte faces as he navigates his friendships, offering an emotional representation of the joys and difficulties of growing up.
“The project is driven purely by raw creative energy and a desire to share our childhood, which I hope will resonate with audiences worldwide,” Khanal adds.
“Bhunte” is budgeted at $168,092 of which $53,853 has been secured.
“I’m hoping to meet producers and investors at FilMart who share our enthusiasm for storytelling and are interested in our project. Our primary goal is to secure financing for the film, but because this is our first time participating in a film financing forum, I also hope to learn more about the international film market and co-producing films with international partners,” Khanal says.