Ghazaleh Golbakhsh

Eyes for Everest documentary

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A young optometrist dreams of following in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary as he treks into the Himalayas to bring basic eye care to earthquake-struck villages around the foot of Mt Everest.  A 45 minute documentary intended for broadcast.  This is the first major production headed by an all women artist collective based in Auckland (www.wakingdream.co.nz).

Synopsis

Shaun Chang is a young Kiwi optometrist from Sydney with a passion for trekking and a life-long hero in the form of Sir Edmund Hillary. Last year, Shaun took a small group of optometrists up into the Himalayas to treat the eye conditions of children and adults en route to Everest Base Camp. They had to turn away people who had walked 4 hours to see them for treatment. This began theEyes4Everest initiative.  This year Shaun is returning to Nepal with a bigger team, more sponsorship and equipment.   His ultimate aim; to open the first eye clinic in the Sagarmatha National Park.  It may be a drop in the ocean in terms of the aid work going on in Nepal, but to Shaun this is his way of continuing the legacy of his life-long hero - a legacy that has become redefined and arguably contentious since Sir Ed passed away in 2008. As the team of optometrists arrives in an earthquake-torn Kathmandu and head to Lukla to begin their trek, we follow their trials and triumphs and explore the phenomenon of foreign aid in Nepal - and what it takes to walk in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary.

Funding

Your funding would go directly to the crew costs:

Return flights to Nepal (via Sydney), insurance (for equipment) and equipment hire (mainly sound and camera accessories) for the trip.   The filming will take place in Sydney, Auckland, Kathmandu, Lukla and Everest base camp.

The charity has already graciously provided some funds for the crew once they are in Kathmandu but we are still short.  Any funding left over will go directly to the charity Eyes for Everest. (www.eyes4everest.org.au)

We are an independent crew with emerging filmmakers and crew and would love to make this project one of our calling cards. We would love the support of the NZ community to help us make this project.  It may seem like a small one but the scope of it and the themes we would like to present are huge. 

Between us, our previous works have won awards and screened at international festivals but we are keen to make something more local for local screens.

Topic Summary

Historically, Nepal has always been at the cross-roads of cultures; a meeting point and battleground for different civilisations vying for control over this small but strategically significant piece of land and the gateway to the Himalayas. 

Today, Nepal is still subject to foreign presence, as international aid teams from around the world position themselves in the various regions of the country and provide various services to its people in education, healthcare and other areas. Sir Edmund Hillary had acted as a sort of uniting influence for aid work across Nepal, however, after his death in 2008, the aid agencies that had never really collaborated grew further and further apart, and there was concern that New Zealand and Australia's legacy of aid to Nepal had begun to diminish. 

This documentary provides a unique perspective on this mixing-pot of foreign aid, following an organisation in the earliest stages as it tries to become established in its own niche in Nepal. 

Work on this documentary began before the earthquakes hit Nepal in April and May 2015.  Suddenly the sleepy Sherpa villages we were planning on visiting had become disaster zones; the children Shaun and the team met last year had all experienced the earthquakes, and will still be suffering the consequences when we visit in October.  The feel-good story we thought we would be telling suddenly took on a different dynamic. 

Would a story about bringing eye-care to Sherpa children seem slightly trivial while the buildings around them were crumbling and rebuilding teams were resurrecting their villages?  If we can take a lesson from Christchurch, it's the importance of restoring a sense of normality in disaster struck areas.  It's often the small gestures that bring hope to people who need something to cling to when the world around them has been shaken apart.  Shaun's trip to the Himalayas this year will be doing that, in a small way, for these communities.  With so much going wrong around them, Shaun and the team will be bringing a different kind of relief to the communities they visit, and I believe it will be even more emotional as a result.  It will also provide a different and fresh perspective on the people living with the aftermath of the earthquakes.  

At a time when Nepal is arguably in more need of foreign aid than ever, this documentary is coming at a crucial time of re-assessment and change in terms of how the world provides aid to this region.  

Director/Writer/Editor

Nicole van Heerden

Originally from South Africa, but now based in Auckland, Nicole has an MA(Hons) in Screen Production, specialising in Drama Directing, and a BSc (conjoint) specialising in Environmental Science from the University of Auckland.  Her thesis film, The Huia, has screened at film festivals in New Zealand and around the world, receiving 2nd runner up in the Audience Award at the Going Green Environmental Film Festival (LA) in 2013, and an Honourable Mention in the Best Emerging NZ Filmmaker Award at the Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival, 2012.   She is one of the co-founders of Waking Dream - a collective supporting women filmmakers. www.huiafilms.com

Producer

Ghazaleh Golbakhsh

Ghazaleh is an Iranian-New Zealand filmmaker and Fulbright scholar who undertook post-graduate studies in screenwriting at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.  She also has an MA in Documentary from the University of Auckland where her thesis film on Iran won international awards.  She is currently working for the documentary department for the Sundance Institute and undertaking her PhD.  www.ghazalehworks.com

Thank you for your interest and help.

UPDATES

  • Link

    27 MONTHS AGO

    Apologies that last link did not work. Here we go:

     

     

     

     

     

  • Long overdue update!

    27 MONTHS AGO

    Hello lovely sponsors!

    It has been a while and I was not sure we could reach out to you once the funding had closed but alas we can! 

    The exciting news is Eyes for Everest is near completion. We have a rough cut! To celebrate we also have a teaser trailer here:

    [<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/X5QCmyOti4Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>]

     

    Ngā mihi and thanks from the team!

  • We're in the news!

    46 MONTHS AGO

    hello to all our wonderful donors and supporters,

    We're back from Nepal and overall it was a really successful shoot. Exhausting, challenging mentally, physically and emotionally, but beyond anything I anticipated or expected in so many ways. We met some amazing people, saw some things that will stay with us the rest of our lives, and now we have an enormous bank of rather stunning footage to edit. We were constantly surprised with plot twists and characters and stories that made us laugh, cry, and feel every emotion in between. Seeing the earthquake damage and the way people are trying to rebuild their lives really brought home the fact that these lovely generous people are actually really in need of help. The big question is what is the best way ? this is one of the big themes we'll address through the doco.

    If you'd like a sneak preview of some of our footage, TV3's 'Newsworthy' on Eednesday night had a story about the Eyes 4 Everest initiative and interviewed Shaun about the trip. All the footage of Nepal is ours... Check it out here: http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/newsworthy/kiwi-optometrist-delivers-eye-care-to-nepalese-youth-2015110423#.Vjn3qbGdfuA.facebook

  • We're in the news!

    46 MONTHS AGO

    hello to all our wonderful donors and supporters,

    We're back from Nepal and overall it was a really successful shoot. Exhausting, challenging mentally, physically and emotionally, but beyond anything I anticipated or expected in so many ways. We met some amazing people, saw some things that will stay with us the rest of our lives, and now we have an enormous bank of rather stunning footage to edit. We were constantly surprised with plot twists and characters and stories that made us laugh, cry, and feel every emotion in between. Seeing the earthquake damage and the way people are trying to rebuild their lives really brought home the fact that these lovely generous people are actually really in need of help. The big question is what is the best way ? this is one of the big themes we'll address through the doco.

    If you'd like a sneak preview of some of our footage, TV3's 'Newsworthy' on Eednesday night had a story about the Eyes 4 Everest initiative and interviewed Shaun about the trip. All the footage of Nepal is ours... Check it out here: http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/newsworthy/kiwi-optometrist-delivers-eye-care-to-nepalese-youth-2015110423#.Vjn3qbGdfuA.facebook

  • We're in the news!

    46 MONTHS AGO

    hello to all our wonderful donors and supporters,

    We're back from Nepal and overall it was a really successful shoot. Exhausting, challenging mentally, physically and emotionally, but beyond anything I anticipated or expected in so many ways. We met some amazing people, saw some things that will stay with us the rest of our lives, and now we have an enormous bank of rather stunning footage to edit. We were constantly surprised with plot twists and characters and stories that made us laugh, cry, and feel every emotion in between. Seeing the earthquake damage and the way people are trying to rebuild their lives really brought home the fact that these lovely generous people are actually really in need of help. The big question is what is the best way ? this is one of the big themes we'll address through the doco.

    If you'd like a sneak preview of some of our footage, TV3's 'Newsworthy' on Eednesday night had a story about the Eyes 4 Everest initiative and interviewed Shaun about the trip. All the footage of Nepal is ours... Check it out here: http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/newsworthy/kiwi-optometrist-delivers-eye-care-to-nepalese-youth-2015110423#.Vjn3qbGdfuA.facebook

  • We're in the news!

    46 MONTHS AGO

    hello to all our wonderful donors and supporters,

    We're back from Nepal and overall it was a really successful shoot. Exhausting, challenging mentally, physically and emotionally, but beyond anything I anticipated or expected in so many ways. We met some amazing people, saw some things that will stay with us the rest of our lives, and now we have an enormous bank of rather stunning footage to edit. We were constantly surprised with plot twists and characters and stories that made us laugh, cry, and feel every emotion in between. Seeing the earthquake damage and the way people are trying to rebuild their lives really brought home the fact that these lovely generous people are actually really in need of help. The big question is what is the best way ? this is one of the big themes we'll address through the doco.

    If you'd like a sneak preview of some of our footage, TV3's 'Newsworthy' on Eednesday night had a story about the Eyes 4 Everest initiative and interviewed Shaun about the trip. All the footage of Nepal is ours... Check it out here: http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/newsworthy/kiwi-optometrist-delivers-eye-care-to-nepalese-youth-2015110423#.Vjn3qbGdfuA.facebook

  • Almost to the top!

    47 MONTHS AGO

    We've had some great interest in the project from various broadcasters both here in NZ and in Australia.  In fact, Nicole and the team spent a day doing press conferences in Sydney and will have a TV crew following THEM at some point on the trip.  Filmmakers following filmmakers.  I'm sure there is a surrealistic tale in there.

    The team are now in Kathmandu, and on behalf of all of us, I want to thank you all for the incredible support and help you have given us.  We are almost there with 36% to go.  If you can please share this with your networks, we can hopefully reach the full target!  We need to reach the full amount in order to receive the funding so any help will be amazing!

    Thanks again and we will keep you up dated on the progress!

    Ghazaleh

  • It's happening!

    47 MONTHS AGO

    It's nearly time!  The team is gearing up and wrapping up for what promises to be an amazing adventure for everyone.  Well except Ghazaleh who will be toiling away in the office.  Then again she's a wuss when it comes to the cold.  But the rest of team aren't.  In fact, Shaun and his team will be venturing there for a second time so they will be semi-pros.  The whole team will also work with the amazing Sherpa people, the real pros of Everest.

    Thank you again for your amazing support, we are in the homestretch with 9 days to go and 61% raised.  Hopefully we can share some of our funding with the charity for all the incredible work they do. http://www.eyes4everest.org.au/

    It's happening!
  • 17% and climbing!

    48 MONTHS AGO

    Firstly, from myself and the team, we want to extend a huge heartfelt thanks to all our donors and supporters on this journey so far. We've reached over $1000 in the first week which is a great start to our fundraising efforts. Your support is so encouraging, and the team are truly grateful for the response we've had so far. Thank you for believing in us!

    Pre-production is moving along at a great pace now that we're counting down the days to departure. Thanks to the generous support of Eyes4Everest sponsors Opticare, the crew's accommodation in Sydney has been taken care of. We'll be in Sydney to record interviews for a couple of days prior to departing for Kathmandu.

    Also thanks to some help from the guys at Auckland Camera we've stocked up on batteries for the trip - one of the logistical things we've had to seriously consider, as unlike Auckland where electrical plugs with a reliable voltage are readily available, we're not going to have that luxury along the trek; and where electricity is available, I've heard stories of iPhones taking all night to charge 40%.. I'm hoping that's not entirely true. Funny how one small thing like batteries can have such a huge impact on planning. Welcome to the world of film production.

    We've also had our press release on The Big Idea and Scoop this week: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU1509/S00273/all-women-filmaker-collective-to-make-documentary-in-nepal.htm More to come...

    On a last, slightly nostalgic note, I was chatting to Shaun (Eyes4Everest founder) over skype a few days ago about our old schools, Bucklands Beach Primary and Macleans College, and seeing Sir Edmund Hillary walking through Macleans and being completely star-struck. It made me think of Shaun at primary school, always enterprising, I remember he once began selling these amazing drawings of sailing ships for 50 cents to kids in our class. They were so good, he soon had huge demand for them - but the teachers found out and the little underground art trade was banned.. Shaun has since put his artistic talent to great use with the app 'Buffalo and Nak', a visual assessment app to help parents determine if their child has visual learning difficulties. You can find out more about it on the Eyes4Everest website. It has been so interesting to me to see the different paths life has taken us, and where our paths have intersected again many years down the track.

    That's all for now; we'll keep you updated with our progress. Many thanks again for your generosity and support. Please continue to spread the word, and let's get this amazing story out to the world.

    - Nicole

    (thematically appropriate title pun thanks to Ghazaleh..)