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A Dedicated Documentary Editor’s ‘Journey to Peak’

Tuesday, December 14, 2021 National Power

December 14, Kathmandu: There are very few people who have gained success and the peak in the Nepalese documentary film sector. Lawa Pyakurel is a successful name in the Nepalese documentary film field. Pyakurel has devoted his life to this sector for the past two decades not only edits documentary film but also directs it and produces it. A documentary made by him is at the peak of success till now. Pyakurel had won the award for being the best editor for the documentary film editing category in the ‘National Nuwakot Documentary Film Festival’ in 2009 after that, he has won more than two dozen national and international level awards and prizes for his work.

The documentary film ‘Panchayatko Ghau’ (Wound of Panchayat) is is the most important and popular documentary, was edited, produced and directed by Pyakurel. Senior documentary editor  Lawa Pyakurel was honored with the ‘Shikhar Honor Award’ by the first president of Nepal Dr. Ram Baran Yadhav. Pyakurel has received Golden Award (Swarnim Samman) 2018,MahakaviLaxmi Prasad Devkota Award 2019, National Honorary Tribute 2021.

Lawa Pyakurel with Legends Senior Editor and Maker Man Bahadur Thapa


Actually, what is a documentary film?

A documentary film is one processed work. Its fundamental aspects are a selection of subject matter, deep research, storytelling style, quality cinematography and after that visual editing work. Currently in Nepal in various styles documentaries are being made like, poetic, expository, observational, participatory, reflexive, performative, narrative.

What does visual editing mean?

Generally, video editing is the process of manipulating and rearranging video shots to create a new work. Editing is usually considered to be one part of the post-production process other post-production tasks include titling, color correction, sound mixing, etc. Its main task is to give complete structure through various collected materials to one overview. For an editor, it is compulsory to have the knowledge to understand the summary of audio-visual composition, dramatic skill, usual knowledge of understanding the flow and the use of software tools and processes.

How is the documentary sector in Nepal?

In 1962 AD Hira Singh Katri made a documentary film about the 42nd birthday of King Mahendra. In the documentary, King Mahendra was presented as rays of hope and an avatar of the god. This is Nepal’s first audio-visual material or documentary film.

After that, it has been six decades that documentary films are being made in Nepal. In this time period documentary film sector has improved a lot. The prospect is enlarging, use of technology is increasing, skilled human resources are available here itself, professionalism is increasing vastly and through new style and availability of subject matter documentary film sector is developing a lot. Documentaries made in Nepal are being included in the international arena. The results are very satisfying and hopes are increasing.

Lawa Pyakurel with famous director Shabbir Kumar Shrestha


What do you think, can Nepalese documentaries compete in the international arena? On which level are documentaries related to the subject of world ambiance are available in Nepal?

As for the subject, Nepal is a virgin land in a fundamental way. The main attraction of Nepal is the subject matter is available through art, culture, ethnic groups, caste diversity, natural, heritage, Himalayan areas, geography, history, festivals, war and peace.

Due to the availability of subject matter everywhere and the rise of new filmmakers Nepali documentaries are getting popular on the world stage. You might have seen from Eric Valley’s ‘Caravan’ to current documentary filmmaker Hari Thapa’s ‘Sherpa: the True Heroes of Mount Everest’ and Ganesh Pandey’s ‘Bhagya Le Bacheka Haru’ has been able to establish their identity in the world. Due to attraction towards the subject matter, foreign filmmakers are also attracted towards Nepal. To tell the truth, the limit of Nepali documentaries is enlarging.

Among the documentary you have edited which is your favorite documentary?

I have spent more than two decades of my life in the Nepali film sector. I have edited many fiction films, documentary films, advertisement films, short films, TV Talk shows/programs and other audio-visual material. I have worked in more than a hundred documentary films. I am completely responsible for all the works and I feel proud of those works. As per the subject matter, everything is equal.

Among the various works that I was responsible for video editing currently, also I like the documentary film ‘Panchayatko Ghau’ (Wound of Panchayat) the most. This documentary film is a bit distinct from others because of social, humanity and processed way and chronic in the subject matter. This documentary made fearless to people about human rights, democracy and social justice. The main thing is, the result of this documentary gave justice to hundreds of villagers who were given injustice. The chief justice of the Supreme Court used this documentary as reference material. Actually, in Nepal’s history, this documentary is the first documentary that played a huge role in establishing social justice.


How much opportunity is there in the Nepalese documentary sector in context to earning?

There was one time when there was a crowd of films related to dramatic stories. The documentary film which used to contain facts and truths were not only neglected by media and people but the earning also used to be very low. The current situation has changed, new documentary filmmakers are being active and it has been able to grab national and international attraction. This sector is being improved a lot. For editor’s documentary film sector is not only a source for physical needs but it has also been the source for other needs like security and esteem. As for skilled editors, this sector is among the most profitable sector.

In which way is the audience of the documentary films?

Compared to the past the number of viewers who watch documentaries is increasing a lot. As the subject matters are based on facts, truths, lively and social the audience of the documentary films are radical, a bit aware and critics. Especially, I find youths are interested in documentary film. The viewers are sensitive because of which the makers of documentary films pay attention to quality responsibly. Basically, due to the film festival that is being organized at the national and international level audiences are more attracted towards the documentary film.

What are your plans for documentaries in the coming days?

I have been engaged as chief of post-production of one documentary film which is related to life, struggle and work of brave fighters who work at Khumbu icefall located at the base camp of the world’s highest peak Mount Everest. In this year itself, I have been planning to make a documentary film named ‘Yuddha Killa’ (Warfare Fortress). This project is also one of the important projects for me.

In which subject the documentary ‘Yuddha Killa’ (Warfare Fortress) will be based?

This documentary film will be based on the proud history of Nepal where brave Nepali fighters fought with internal and external powers, where the blood of Nepalese fighters has flowed, where the fighters won the battle with external powers. Those fights, which Nepali students only studied on a piece of paper, I want to show them how they fought and saved the country from foreign powers.

Present By: Pabitra Mudvari

Excerpted from