ACF Asian Cinema Fund

Script Development Fund

2023 Script Development Fund

LIST Where the Rivers Run South
Category AFA Project
Project Where the Rivers Run South
Director Suraj PAUDEL
Country Nepal
Director's Profile Suraj Paudel is a prominent writer, director, and editor hailing from Nepal. His remarkable achievements include being a fellow of CHANEL X BIFF Asian Film Academy 2022, where he received a prestigious Most Promising Filmmaker Award. Suraj’s editing work on the short film Lori (Abinash Bikram Shah, 2022) earned it a Special Mention Award at Cannes Film Festival 2022, and he has worked on many acclaimed short films in various positions. Additionally, Suraj contributed as a screenwriter on TV Series Singha Durbar (2015 - 2016).
Currently, Suraj Paudel imparts his expertise as a film educator while diligently preparing for his directorial feature, Where the Rivers Run South. This upcoming film has already gained recognition, being selected for the Global Media Makers LA residency 2023 and receiving support from ACF’s Script Development Fund in 2023. His contributions have significantly enriched Nepali film and have been recognized both nationally and internationally.
Goverdhan Baje (77, a religious guru) prevents a girl from performing her father’s funeral rites, saying “Only if a son cremates the remains of his father will the soul of the dead find a way to heaven.” The stubborn old man becomes a prisoner of his own ideology. Having lost his only son to the Nepalese Civil War, and with his grandson missing in Qatar, he begins to fear dying without a male heir; the very thought of which worsens his health daily.

Recognizing his time is limited, he deceives his family, pretending to visit Kathmandu for a health check-up, while secretly searching for his missing grandson. With a home for four generations, his daughter-in-law and granddaughter-in-law allow him to go, on the condition that he takes Muna (12), his great granddaughter, along. Despite considering her immature, Muna joins the journey.

As they travel, Muna discovers Goverdhan Baje’s true intentions, but is hesitant to get involved as her father never even took responsibility for Muna or her mother. Without Muna, Goverdhan Baje visits different government offices and agencies by himself. The continuous maneuvering takes a toll upon his already depleted health. It becomes difficult for Muna to see Goverdhan Baje toiling in such a fragile state.

Muna shoulders all the responsibility. She takes complete care of Goverdhan Baje and leads the search for her father. As the story unfolds, the question remains whether Muna will earn the place of a son in Goverdhan Baje’s eyes, challenging traditional gender roles and beliefs.
Director's Note
Growing up near the Police Headquarters in my village, I lived in constant fear of rumored Maoist Guerilla attacks. The devastating toll of 16,000 deaths during the Nepalese Civil War, with many more missing, deeply affected families, leaving us haunted and questioning.

My life diverged from my sister′s, who, despite being intelligent, was married off at 21, while I was able to study in the capital city. Our community limits choices and desires, trusting men more than competent women, impacting both genders, and prompting my persistent questions as to why.

At 32, I am the last of my friends to remain in the country. All the others having sought better prospects abroad. The mass exodus of 3000 young people daily to foreign employment makes me wonder if this country has any hope. Such unanswered questions led to this project, giving voice to the concerns of my generation.