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All-women filmaker collective to make documentary in Nepal

All-women filmaker collective to make first documentary in Nepal

A new documentary is being made about a young optometrist who treks into the Himalayas to bring basic eye care to earthquake-struck villages – like his hero Sir Edmund Hilary. This is the first big undertaking by a newly establish all women filmmaking collective in Auckland, called Waking Dream.

The film came to director Nicole van Heerden from an old primary school friend, Shaun Chang. Just last year, Shaun took a small group of optometrists up into the Himalayas to treat the eye conditions of children and adults en route to Everest Base Camp. They had to turn away people who had walked four hours to see them for treatment. This year Shaun is returning to Nepal with a bigger team, more sponsorship and equipment. His ultimate aim; to open the first eye clinic in the Sagarmatha National Park.

It may be a drop in the ocean in terms of the aid work going on in Nepal, but to Shaun this is his way of continuing the legacy of his life-long hero - a legacy that has become redefined and arguably contentious since Sir Ed passed away in 2008. As the team of optometrists arrives in an earthquake-torn Kathmandu and head to Lukla to begin their trek, the film will follow their trials and triumphs and explore the phenomenon of foreign aid in Nepal . “At a time when Nepal is arguably in more need of foreign aid than ever, this documentary is coming at a crucial time of re-assessment and change in terms of how the world provides aid to this region.” States Nicole.

Both Nicole and producer, Ghazaleh Golbakhsh are graduates of the University of Auckland’s prestigious Master of Arts in Screen Production programme. After working in the industry, both Nicole and Ghazaleh, (with fellow filmmaker and graduate Mojan Javadi) decided to help found a collective to support women filmmakers. “Sadly the numbers of women in the industry are still very low,” says Ghazaleh, “but if we, and I mean both men and women, can support new and emerging women filmmakers to make more content and get their voices heard, then perhaps we can help change that”.

Although mainly self-funded, the documentary is also being supported by the charity Eyes for Everest and crowdfunding through Westpac’s Boosted website for the arts. The team is hoping to raise enough for their expedition to Everest, including giving what remains from insurance and equipment costs to the charity. Donations are accepted through this link:

The hope is to send the film to festivals as well as to broadcast locally on NZ and Australian screens.


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