Santa Barbara Film Fest 2022 Women Directors: Meet Nancy Svendsen – “Pasang: In the Shadow of Everest”


After 20 years in management positions in varied aspects of the healthcare trade, Nancy Svendsen turned an unbiased filmmaker primarily based in Northern California, starting with the quick documentary “Svend” (2013), about an effort to protect a historic wood boat class within the San Francisco Bay. Combining her love of storytelling along with her expertise working giant organizations and her ardour for ladies’s rights, Svendsen based the Comply with Your Dream Basis Inc., a 501(c)3 group, as a spot to incubate and launch highly effective tales that may affect individuals’s lives. Publicity to the story of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa would spark a quest that might culminate some 10 years later with the discharge in 2022 of Svendsen’s characteristic directorial debut, the documentary “Pasang: Within the Shadow of Everest.”

“Pasang: Within the Shadow of Everest” is screening on the 2022 Santa Barbara Worldwide Movie Pageant, which is going down via March 12.

W&H: Describe the movie for us in your individual phrases.

NS: This can be a biopic concerning the lifetime of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the primary Nepali lady to summit Everest. Her story is one among nice braveness, universally related, and galvanizing. On the similar time, her life story is layered, difficult, and nuanced, reflecting the numerous obstacles that she confronted. It’s the story of an unlikely hero.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

NS: I used to be instantly drawn to Pasang’s story when my brother-in-law, Dorjee Sherpa, first instructed me about his sister. As a Sherpa (Indigenous) lady in Nineteen Nineties in Nepal, Pasang had only a few rights. She was a Buddhist in a Hindu kingdom, outdoors of the caste system fully — an “out-caste.” She fought multiplying obstacles in her dream to summit Everest: her household, worldwide climbers, her authorities, and the mountain itself. Her charisma reached out from the archival footage to me.

W&H: What would you like individuals to consider after they watch the movie?

NS: I hope individuals see that she was a fancy lady woke up to her function as an inspirational chief at a time of nice change. Amidst her nation’s tumultuous politics and the postcolonial attitudes of the worldwide climbing elite, her braveness to face mounting obstacles impressed her nation. I need individuals to consider, who will get to take dangers? A girl, a mom, an Indigenous particular person? And whose mountain is it?

W&H: What was the largest problem in making the movie?

NS: Pasang got here from a poor village excessive within the Himalaya. They didn’t have cameras so there was no footage of her as a baby or teenager. Piecing collectively archival footage, photographs from household and mates’ scrapbooks, house films shot in a number of codecs, and previous Nepali TV interviews was like placing an enormous puzzle collectively.

W&H: How did you get your movie funded? Share some insights into how you bought the movie made.

NS: I shaped my very own 501(c)3 basis, the Comply with Your Dream Basis, so I may do my very own fundraising. I raised all of my funds via personal donations from people and companies. I did a number of crowdfunding campaigns.

W&H: What impressed you to turn into a filmmaker?

NS: I’ve at all times believed within the energy of tales to alter individuals’s minds. I’ve beloved tales since childhood. That is my second profession. I left the company world as a result of I wished to do one thing that personally impressed me.

W&H: What’s the very best and worst recommendation you’ve acquired?

NS: Finest recommendation: You need to maintain working at your movie till you might be happy it’s the greatest it may be — you’re the solely one who can determine that.

Worst recommendation: Attempt to repair an absence of footage drawback with animation. It might work — however it may also be an costly gamble.

W&H: What recommendation do you could have for different girls administrators?

NS: Don’t be intimidated by everybody who has extra expertise than you do. Belief your self to make good selections. Search for “no-drama” teammates — the filmmaking course of is difficult sufficient with out emotional drama.

W&H: Title your favourite woman-directed movie and why.

NS: I really like “Harlan County U.S.A.,” directed by Barbara Kopple. As a movie it captivated me — and seeing it years in the past I keep in mind considering, “Wow, this movie was directed by a lady — perhaps I may do this some day.”

W&H: How are you adjusting to life throughout the COVID-19 pandemic? Are you preserving inventive, and in that case, how? 

NS: The COVID pandemic, paradoxically, was good for my movie. I discovered individuals who wouldn’t in any other case have been obtainable who joined my workforce. I used to be fortunate, as I used to be in post-production, so working collectively nearly with my workforce was not tough. I’m feeling very inventive!

W&H: The movie trade has a protracted historical past of underrepresenting individuals of coloration onscreen and behind the scenes and reinforcing — and creating — damaging stereotypes. What actions do you suppose have to be taken to make Hollywood and/or the doc world extra inclusive? 

NS: First, championing movies that commemorate range and illustration. Second, mentoring and academic applications that attain underserved communities.


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