Dominated by her husband, her family and society, Belmaya is desperate for independence. Born a Dalit in a hill village in Nepal, orphaned at the age of nine, poorly educated, and trapped in an abusive marriage with a baby daughter, Belmaya, 21, has given up hope of finding happiness.
Rewind to 2006, when Belmaya, at 14, participated in a photo project at a girls’ home in Pokhara. A natural feminist, full of passion and mischief, she was keen to change her discriminatory world through photography. But that window closed when the home locked away her camera.
Now she gets a second chance, this time to train in documentary filmmaking. Picking up the camera once more, her maverick spark returns. Determined to create a better life for her young daughter, Belmaya gains the skills and confidence to forge a new path. But are her resentful husband and conservative community ready for this?
I Am Belmaya is an extraordinarily intimate window into Belmaya’s world, giving an insight into the brutality of life for many girls and women in Nepal, and showing her determination to challenge social norms and transcend the life she was born into.
The result is a rich portrait, interweaving observational material with footage shot by Belmaya, and challenging the traditional roles of director/subject, as she becomes co-director of her own story.