07 June 2009

Leni Riefenstahl and Nepali Newsreels

By Harsha Man Maharjan

Watching Leni’s documentary Triumph of the Will reminded me of Nepalese newsreels and documentaries made before Nepal Television came into existence.

In 1970s panchayat government created Royal Nepal Film Corporation to make films. It made few films and thousands of newsreels. These newsreels were mainly about visit, birth, marriage etc of royal family members. Mobile teams had to screen these newsreels in different places far from Kathmandu during royal visits.

I have seen none of these newsreels. They are languishing in two rooms of Film Development Board. And it is difficult to see them. But I can say they are technically poor. Nepal lacked trained human resource at that time and there might also be scarcity of technical instruments.

Yes, in this context we can’t make technically sound documentaries as Leni did. She had support of Nazi party. All necessary human resources and technical instruments were available at her call.

Recently I watched Leni’s Triumph of the Will. Technically this film is superb. Oh yea, subject is dull. What a hectic job she did by turning about five days of footage of Numberg rally into a documentary of 2 hours. Hats off to her. She was highly innovative director.

About Triumph of the Will and Leni:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triumph_of_the_Will http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leni_Riefenstahl

photo source: