A film by Kate Stryker, Lucas Millard
2020, 81 minutes
No. 311

The stories presented in Baato (n. [Nepali] 1. path, trail 2. way 3. road) follow the route of a partially complete trans-national highway project that promises to transform this roadless Himalayan valley permanently, opening up a direct transport route between China & India. Mikma and her family collect medicinal herbs around their home nestled in the Himalaya of northeastern Nepal, before making an annual 300-kilometer migration, partly on foot and partly by ramshackle vehicle, to urban markets in the lowlands.

The extension of the first road to (and through) their off-the-beaten-path village is fitfully underway, promising less walking and perhaps a less arduous life in some distant future. Road engineers take bribes to avoid destroying homes, while laborers produce gravel — breaking individual stones by hand with hammers. The herb collectors plot to avoid shakedowns by police and bus operators as they miraculously make their way to market.

The documentary is a visual feast that glimpses the effects of development and globalization from the perspective of those affected most directly – it is a journey through the heart of a changing Nepal.

Winner, Fredi-Ursula Wohlwend Award, Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival
Official Selection, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Official Selection, Austin Film Festival
Official Selection, Woods Hole Film Festival

“… a rich visual document …” - Bicram Rijal, Nepali Times