Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez, 2013
USA | Nepali with English subtitles and English | 118 minutes
Directors Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez in person!
Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s (literally) transporting film—shot inside a cable car that carries pilgrims and tourists to and from a mountaintop temple in Nepal—is radically simple in conception. Each of its 11 shots lasts as long as a one-way ride, which corresponds to the duration of a roll of 16 millimeter film. This newest work from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab—which previously produced Sweetgrass (NYFF '09) and Leviathan (NYFF50)—is thrillingly mysterious in its effects: a staged documentary, a cross between science fiction and ethnography, an airborne version of an Andy Warhol screen test. As with the richest structural films, Manakamana is a kind of head movie that viewers are invited to complete as they watch. Working within a 5-by-5-foot glass and metal box, Spray and Velez have made an endlessly suggestive film that both describes and transcends the bounds of time and space. Winner of the Filmmakers of the Present prize at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival. A Cinema Guild release.