Rishi Amatya is Room to Read’s Senior Communication Officer for Nepal. In this guest blog he shares his experience and photos from filming Suma’s Story with 10x10 in Nepal. Learn more about Suma’s story and view the film trailer at www.roomtoread.org/10x10act.
It was our second day in the field. We had already interviewed more than 20 girls, and exhaustion was slowly creeping in. There was one more interview to go before lunch: Suma Tharu. We asked the usual questions, had her expand on her responses where necessary, and got everything on tape.
We were finished rolling, when Martha Adams asked Suma a question, “Can you sing us a song?”
“Yes,” said Suma, who immediately began to sing the original song she’d written to help her come to terms with a difficult past as an indentured servant. It caught us unprepared.
The power of Suma’s song stayed with us for the duration of the first production shoot for 10x10’s documentary, Girl Rising. That was in 2010.
Fast forward two years and here we are now: Suma was chosen to open The Newsweek/Daily Beast Women in the World Conference in New York City, singing the same beautiful song that had mesmerized us on that first scouting trip.
It’s easy to see why Suma’s songwriting plays such a central role in her story in Girl Rising. Her songs tell her story in a way words couldn’t quite express.
The piece of the film was shot in Kathmandu, over a hectic week in September. The average day started at sunrise and lasted through the wee hours after dusk, but even the hectic schedule was not enough to dampen Suma’s cheerful spirit.
Suma made fast friends with the crew—chatting like old friends between takes. She was calm and collected throughout the shoot, even when things didn’t go as planned (like the unrelenting rainstorm—Murphy’s Law).
As a first-time movie star, Suma played her part perfectly. “I was little afraid at first,” she said. “I have never ‘acted’ in front of the camera before, but it was only a matter of time before I felt comfortable and enjoyed the experience. It is my story, after all...”
Learn more about Suma and the film Girl Rising at www.roomtoread.org/10x10act.