After taking home the Silver Dragon Oscar qualifying award at Krakow Film Festival, Dekel Berenson’s Ashmina will now screen at Palm Springs Film Festival. This topical film stars real people to tell the touching story of one girl’s life in one of the world’s poorest countries, Nepal.
Nestled between a beautiful lake and the Himalayas, Ashmina, 13, lives with her family at the outskirts of Pokhara, Nepal, paragliding capital of the world.
Director Dekel Berenson’s latest short film, Ashmina, didn’t exactly happen overnight. For five years, he set out on an adventure to explore the far ends of the world such as the North Pole, and Mount Everest. It was on that trip to Nepal, in 2014, that inspired his latest, thought-provoking film. While in the country’s second largest city, Pokhara, to finish his training as a paragliding pilot, he encountered several local children who left a lasting impression on the UK/Israeli-based filmmaker.
Nepal has a long history of being the poorest country in South Asia—made only worse by a devastating earthquake in 2015 that killed 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000 more. While tourism has many economic and social benefits to this region, some believe the influx of foreign visitors creates an unwanted middle class, increases crime, threatens indigenous identity, and poses a threat to the region’s natural and cultural resources. Berenson tackles the country’s tourism challenges through the eyes of a 13-year-old local girl.
Israeli filmmaker Dekel Berenson is passionate about writing and storytelling, Dekel has been shooting short “films” since he was 8 years old, using a VHS camcorder and a VCR for editing. He acquired a Masters in International Relations from the Central European University in Budapest in 2006, receiving the Best Thesis Award and graduating first in his class. Over the past three years, he has combined his passions, making artistic films of high quality that bring to light real-world social and humanitarian issues. His recent film Anna just premiered at Cannes. Both Anna and Ashmina are produced by Merlin Merton.
Next year Berenson will go into production with his debut feature Adva.