‘The Red Suitcase’ unpacks rare Nepal-Sri Lanka partnership at Venice Film Festival

VENICE: “The Red Suitcase,” which has its world premiere in the Venice Film Festival’s Horizons strand, is a rare Nepal-Sri Lanka co-production. The producers have released a first clip from the film.

The film marks the feature directorial debut of Fidel Devkota, who previously directed the short “The Last Yak Herder of Dhe” (2014) and documentary short “Wind of Change in Lo Mustang” (2016).

In mystery tale “The Red Suitcase” a pick-up truck driver leaves Kathmandu airport for a two-day drive with a delivery arriving from abroad to a remote mountain village. On the high road, a solitary figure slowly makes his way, wheeling a small red suitcase toward the same village.

The film is produced by Ram Krishna Pokharel and Shova Thapa for Nepal’s Icefall Productions (2023 Karlovy Vary title “Guras”) and for Sri Lanka’s Film Council Productions, auteur Vimukthi Jayasundara, whose “The Forsaken Land” (2005) won the Camera d’Or at Cannes, alongside Cine Sankipa, Nepal.

The Nepal-Sri Lanka collaboration began when Pokharel invited Jayasundara to teach at a film school in Kathmandu. “Prior to this, I had limited exposure to Nepali cinema, but my visit unveiled a wealth of hope and potential, particularly among the younger generation. That’s when I made a heartfelt promise to Ram: if there was any film project in which I could offer my support, he need only reach out,” Jayasundara told Variety.

Pokharel had previously collaborated with Sri Lankan editor Saman Alvitigala on Busan-winning Bhutanese film “The Red Phallus” and proposed that both he and Jayasundara board the film’s post-production efforts from Sri Lanka. Colorist Dinidu Jagoda and visual effects artist Rivinu Amanda also joined from Sri Lanka.

“‘The Red Suitcase’ is a simple and honest film made with only local talent from South Asia. This film is a testimony that there is abundance of talent in our region,” Pokharel told Variety. “As there are no funding bodies for independent films in our countries, we tried to connect with the talent in South Asia and with available local resources to make things possible.”

U.K.-based sales agent Reason8 Films is handling international sales on “The Red Suitcase.” The cast includes Saugat Malla, Prabin Khatiwada, Bipin Karki, Shristhi Shrestha, Sonam Lama, Anju Deuja and B. Bishowkarma.

“The film reflects the spirit of young people in Nepal today, who live with growing political and economic uncertainty. It also highlights the adverse social costs associated with migration and remittance in contemporary Nepal,” ,” Devkota told Variety. Financial remittances sent home by migrant workers have emerged as the backbone of Nepal’s economy in recent times and account for around 30% of GDP. Even though remittances have significantly contributed to the economic development of Nepal and raised the living standard of the people, there are overshadowing tragedies associated with them.

“As an immigrant myself, this film is all about longing for home and trying to connect back to your roots, no matter what. The film also resonates with the dreams and despairs of millions of migrant workers and their families back home. On a very personal level, this film is my tribute to the millions of migrant workers who faced exploitation and servitude on foreign soil,” Devkota added.

Watch the clip here:


© Variety

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