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Rising Stars: Meet Kirtana Banskota

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kirtana Banskota.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Like most, ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated by cinema. The idea of being able to learn about places, people and cultures, about stories both heard and unheard, about living beings from the deepest depths of the oceans to the highest parts of the mountains- one click of a button and I could be transported to a place far far away. At a very young age, I knew I wanted to make others feel the same way I felt. A highly expressive kid, I grew up writing and acting in theater. Later I decided to go to film school at Temple University in Philadelphia. As I grew older, I realized filmmaking was an art, I knew how to create something but I knew nothing about negotiating my ideas and my thoughts to sell to the world, so I decided to jump into business development while mastering the art of low to no budget filmmaking. As time went by, I realized I had started focusing my energy on business instead of creating- I realized I was beginning to lose myself and I was neither happy with the work I was doing nor was giving the time for what brought me joy- the art of filmmaking. That is when I co-founded Nepal America Film Society and Nepal America International Film Festival.

As a first-generation Nepali American, I feel responsible to create a platform for voices that are unheard. I grew up with privileges’ that most don’t have and the least I can do is somehow become a catalyst to help echo those stories that need to be told and heard. With that need in mind, I also founded Banskota Productions- dedicated to my grandfather, a man who believed in the arts and literature and the importance of it in the growth of any society. Banskota Productions has offices both in Austin, TX and Kathmandu Nepal. What started as a platform to help South Asian voices to be heard through art and cinema is now slowly growing to be a place where all unheard stories will be told. For years I struggled to find a unique voice and fought against myself in what to be and how I wanted others to perceive me and if I would do justice to what I was to share, I never realized until a few years ago, my roots were very strong, all I needed to do was expand and extend my branches, and that is when I also realized how important collaboration was with those who had a similar passion for storytelling like I did. Now, we work and extend our partnership all across the globe. I know I am in the very inception of my career, however, with a clear path in mind I am hopeful I will be able to create a space for generations of storytellers.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I can blame funding and the lack thereof, the lack of opportunity for minority makers, but I think the most important struggle so far that I must recognize is the one I’ve had internally ,with myself. Like I mentioned earlier, I was always trying to find a voice that fit the parameters within the box. Which is surprising to realize because as an individual, I have never really cared about societal norms or perceptions about myself, but then for some reason I always cared about how people would receive the scripts I was writing and the films I was hoping to make. Once I got over that obstacle, I realized there is always one person out there that would like it or accept it, and hopefully in the process I could make a small difference in someone’s life. That’s when I said you gotta get out of your head Kirtana and just get it done.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a first-generation Nepali American filmmaker based in Austin, Texas. A producer, writer, director, and actor, I wear multiple hats when it comes to the entertainment world. I founded Banskota Productions, an International production house based in Austin, TX as well as Kathmandu Nepal that celebrates storytelling from all across the globe. I co-wrote and co-produced the very first audience interactive Bollywood Theatrical Production called The Big Fat Indian Wedding in Austin, TX.

I am the co-founder of the Nepal America Film Society and the Nepal America International Film Festival, both based in Maryland. In the year 2020 during the global pandemic, I co-produced the Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals with six other international South Asian festivals making it the largest virtual South Asian festival. I recently co-founded the Austin South Asian Film Festival, which will see the red carpet for the first time in March 2022. My documentary short, Nepal Snehi Kaakha, was an award winner at the 2018 Filmaka competition. My recent film produced during COVID, Ghar Aau (Come Home), has been selected to screen in numerous film festivals across the globe and has also won the Audience Choice Awards in the Austin Liftoff Film Festival. I co-authored and co-produced For Love, a film that competed and won several awards at the 48 Hour Film Festival in San Antonio. My recent film Patience where I acted as the lead character and produced is currently going through jury selection at the San Antonio 48 hours film. I am the Executive Producer of the archeological show A World Beneath, whose pilot episode is currently being pitched to various network channels.

A newly elected board member of the Women in Film and Television Austin chapter, I look forward to bringing a fresh and diverse perspective to the organization. With strong roots in South Asia and the US, my passion is to build bridges between cultures through cinema and entertainment.

How do you think about luck?
I know I’ve always been very lucky. I have an amazing support system of family, friends and peers that are always there for me. And somehow, no matter where I go animals flock to me, so I count that as extremely lucky. In terms of business, I think there were times where I didn’t work smart, didn’t ask for help, did not take the time to really analyze and realize my mistakes- I don’t consider that as bad luck, that’s just me being stubborn and some growing up to do. Once I came to that realization, I started changing my way of working and things changed for me as well. Life is ever-changing and growing all I can do is adapt and create, as for lady luck, she’ll always be there 😉

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Image Credits:

Banskota Productions P.V Subramaniam Aarti Kulkarni Srivas Venkatesha

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