A young filmmaker talks about life during lockdown, the things he misses the most, and how young people can support each other in these difficult times
Kathmandu, Nepal: Twenty-one-year-old Sailesh RC has recently set himself a task for the coming weeks: to make sure to write at least one scene every single day.
Sailesh – originally from Dailekh District in mid-western Nepal, but currently living in Kathmandu – is a filmmaker, a recent graduate of media studies, and has already been engaged in a number of film projects over the years. He is also among the three young filmmakers who were selected to receive grants as part of a UNICEF-British Council partnership to produce short films on the theme of mental health.
That love of film and storytelling was what got him through this last year when COVID-19 brought such enormous changes to everyone’s lives. That, and a newfound interest in cooking, something he has gotten even more practice in now that he’s living by himself.
"I struggled to stay motivated at first, but then I decided that I was going to make use of the time I had to practice and produce whatever I could,” he says.
But one thing Sailesh still misses more than anything else is the freedom to travel. Prior to the pandemic, he was on the road more often than not; in fact, he hopes to visit all 77 districts in the country and so far, has already gotten 45 out of the way.
“Travelling has always fueled my fiction,” he says, talking about the joys of going to a new place, meeting new people and learning about their particular realities. “I want my work to reflect these experiences and stories from different corners of the country.
Being confined within the four walls of his home for such an extended period of time has therefore been frustrating, but Sailesh says he is trying is best to fight that feeling. He recognizes, however, that this might be easier said than done for many others.
“Adolescence and youth is such an important transitory phase in our lives.. it’s an age of dreaming big and of starting to figure out who we are and what we want to do,” he says. “So, this situation has a lot of us feeling lost.”
He offers the example of one of his friends, whom he started to sense – through their conversations – was having a hard time. On his part, Sailesh says he simply listened to his friend. “Sometimes as friends and family, that’s the best thing you can do to support someone,” he says.
“You watch out for clues that they are struggling, even if they don’t tell you directly, and you stay in touch, you listen and just be there for them.”
“Everyone needs to have people they can open up to and express themselves to without judgement.”
With the vaccination campaign having started in the country, Sailesh says there is at least the hope that things might return to normal. For now, he dreams of some day being able to set off on the road again, heading towards new places, new people and new stories to tell.