The war is over, but there isn’t peace yet. Especially for the relatives of those who disappeared, those who were wounded and for those who lost their parents.
This is the sad central message of Kesang Tseten and Prem BK’s documentary, Frames of War. Tseten and BK follow the photo exhibition tour of the book, A People War across eastern Nepal, interviewing families of the disappeared, the wounded, visitors to the exhibitions and photographers.
What emerges is a powerful emotional journey that reminds us what this country went through between 1996-2006. We see that the war didn’t just leave behind a damaged physical infrastructure but also psychological trauma, especially among children. It elucidates the unfulfilled quest for truth and justice. In the same way, nepa-laya’s book, Frames of War reminds us to remember those that the state has forgotten.
The warring sides are now in government, and they seem in no hurry to compensate victims, provide justice or acknowledge violence that could be construed as war crimes. Even the media seems to have forgotten the non-combatants who are victims of the war.
“Here is my son. It says here he has disappeared, it doesn’t say he is dead,” Laxmimaya Adhikari tells the interviewer in Udaypur, pointing to a picture of her son, Lilaraj, in a Maoist poster. “I want to meet Prachanda, and ask him to take care of me. After all, he is the king now.”
Srijana Pakhrin’s father was accused of being a Maoist and killed by the security forces. She breaks down in front of the camera: “I see all my classmates laughing and I want to be happy too. But ever since my father was killed I only get negative thoughts.”
At a recent preview, there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience. Tseten’s direction and BK’s camera work are unobtrusive, yet powerful. Amrit Gurung’s music and lyrics add a haunting ambience to the images. They all reinforce the message that without truth, justice and acknowledgement of our past, there can never be true reconciliation.
Frames of War
by Kesang Tseten and Prem BK
Nepali with English subtitles
nepa-laya and Shunyata Films