Stefanie Spray, Pacho Velez
Mana stands for heart, kamana means wish. Until 1995, an arduous, three-hour-long foot march up the steep slopes of a rock platform was the only way of reaching the Hindu temple of Manakamana. It is believed that the goddess Bhagwati grants the wishes of everyone who makes the pilgrimage to her shrine 1300 metres above the Nepalese jungle. Today, the sacred site can be reached by cable car.
Stefanie Spray and Pacho Velez accompany the passengers of a cable car imported from an Austrian ski resort to the spiritual site eleven times, each trip takes up an entire 400’ magazine of 16mm film. The passengers are tourists visiting the temple for the first time and people from the village. For many Nepalese, the arrival of the cable car is one of the most obvious signs of progress. For centuries, visiting the holy site involved huge physical exertion, today it’s a passive act. The pilgrim has become a passenger.
Manakamana is a surreal trip, high above the breathtaking landscape of a country caught between tradition and modernity. By following the cable car’s route, the director duo meditate on how technology has changed our relationship to time and space, and they ask what this means for concepts such as religion and family.
The IFFF Dortmund+Köln presented Manakamana as a loop installation at Lautsprecher MO on the Fourth floor of the Dortmund U – with a breath-taking view over Dortmund city centre.
In cooperation with Museum Ostwall
Awards for ›Manakamana‹
Pardo d’oro, Festival del Film Locarno 2013
Stefanie Spray, born 1979 in Minnesota, is a film-maker and anthropologist. She has taught at Harvard University since 2006 as part of the Sensory Ethnography Labs (SEL). She has visited Nepal at least once a year since her first trip in 1999. In 2007, she started filming there as part of the SEL.
Films by Stephanie Spray
Untitled 2010 | As Long as there Is Breath 2009 | Monsoon Reflections 2008
Pacho Velez graduated from the California Institute of Arts in 2010 with an MA in Fine Arts, having studied under James Bennings. He met Stephanie Spray in the first Sensory Ethnography course with Lucien Cataign Taylor in 2006. Velez’ work is a combination of ethnography, contemporary art and political documentary. He is currently working on the project The Reagan Years. Velez lives and works in New York.
Films by Pacho Velez
Bastards of Utopia 2010 | Orphans of Mathare 2003 | Occupation 2002