Newest Reviews
Menace II Society
Night Raiders
Samourai, Le
Advent Calendar, The
Merchant of Four Seasons, The
Love of Jeanne Ney, The
Blonde. Purple
Dirty Ho
Dying to Divorce
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Trouble with Being Born, The
Last Matinee, The
Strings, The
Free Hand for a Tough Cop
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan
Dear Future Children
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus
Thin Red Line, The
Petite Maman
Fast & Furious 9
Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat
Sweet Thing
Father, The
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Night House, The
Father of Flies
80,000 Years Old
Dead & Beautiful
Whisker Away, A
Newest Articles
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
  I Am Belmaya I Am A Camera
Year: 2021
Director: Sue Carpenter, Belmaya Nepali
Stars: Belmaya Nepali, various
Genre: DocumentaryBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: When Belmaya Nepali, a low caste Dalit woman from Nepal, was fourteen years old she was given an opportunity that should have changed her life. An orphan, she was living in a girls' school where she was taught by strict masters, having run away from her home which she shared with her older brothers; they cared little for her education, believing girls to be destined for one thing, a domestic existence bringing up children. Sadly, that was an opinion shared across the patriarchal society of the nation, though when one day British filmmaker Sue Carpenter arrived to distribute cameras to the girls as a project, Belmaya saw a way out...

It's a life of ups and downs to say the least, but as the director credits to this documentary indicate, Belmaya was able to turn her dreams of making films into a reality. Yet that credit is more complicated than that, as Carpenter wanted to give her equal billing since she had guided the production, yet it was Carpenter who was the reason it was made at all. For that reason, some may have been wary of this film, a story of a white, Western filmmaker staging an intervention to rescue a poverty-stricken Asian; suspicions that Carpenter was boosting her profile off the back of Belmaya may have derailed the reaction before the film was widely seen.

However, if you watched I Am Belmaya, you would see this was no simple act of charity, it was a genuinely felt move to give a voice to someone whose circumstances had disadvantaged them. When Carpenter caught up with her subject in 2014, the Nepalese woman was in a bad way, trapped in an unhappy marriage with a vulnerable toddler to look after, and no path out of this to better herself - filmmaking could not have been further from her mind. Nevertheless, a camera was given to her, a place on a new course was found, and suddenly, with access to a method of expressing herself, Belmaya was finding a new power simply by telling her own life story.

Hence the co-director credit, she really did shape the journey of the film as well as taking care of the technical side by operating the camera in many scenes and choosing what was to be recorded, all in the service of her real interest, promoting girls' education in Nepal, and across the world. There was a selfless quality to the documentary in that way, for she led by example, her engagement with society rekindled by use of technology – you can criticise people taking selfies or obsessively filming any bit of trivia around them on their phones, but Belmaya was applying that for good intentions, not out of vanity but out of a altruism. The thought that someone this disadvantaged was determined to improve the lot of her gender globally was truly affecting.

We get to know her very closely, as Carpenter took a back seat to attend to editing the hours of footage together, but while there are setbacks and scenes where she grows tearful at the abuses she has suffered, including a violent husband who refuses to divorce her, and the 2015 earthquake where she pitched in to try and rebuild the devastated community, overall the mood was positive, especially in light of how this resolved itself (which you can kind of anticipate, but that doesn't make it any the less cheering). Belmaya's saucer-eyed daughter was the main reason we could tell the years were passing, as she grew noticeably older the further the film progressed, and she threatened to steal the show with her antics, yet also because she was emblematic of a future her mother desperately wanted to be better for girls like her. With stories of Dalit women suffering still making the news at the time of release, you hoped that Belmaya was going to forge the difference she deserved, for all her countrywomen. Music by Marie-Anne Fischer.

[I AM BELMAYA is released in cinemas and on demand at Curzon Home Cinema and BFI Player from 15th October 2021. Click here to visit the official website.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 250 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: