“Sensitive and heart-touching!
Save your language to save your soul.“
—ANVITA ABBI, Linguist
“Scholars have played an important role in preserving the Kusunda language.“
“Preserves and immortalizes a language on the brink of extinction.“
—Ramil Mercado, Asia Matters For America
“Ms. Gyani Maiya Sen talked about the
heartbreaking situation: No one speaks Kusunda.”
—PHAN BẢO, Tuổi Trẻ
About the film
The Kusunda people were once a semi-nomadic hunter and gatherer community that settled in villages around the mid-western Nepalese district of Dang. They have long lost their native language Mihaq (Kusunda), to acculturation and other barriers to active use. The community also lost its 83-year-old elder Gyani Maiya Sen-Kusunda in 2020, the most and the only known fluent Kusunda speaker then. Filmed in Kulmor in the Dang District in 2018, this documentary is a memoir of Sen-Kusunda in her own words and a biography of her people who were forced to leave their language and cultural identity. Kusunda is being revived by Kamala Sen Khatri, Sen-Kusunda’s younger sister, and Uday Raj Aaley, a local researcher who is the key collaborator for this film.
This film was supported through a National Geographic Society grant.
Gyani Maiya was awarded Best Screenplay at the International Film & Entertainment Festival Australia (IFEFA) 2022, and was selected for the 6th International Folklore Film Festival 2023, Thrissur (India), Khamrubu International Short Film Festival 2023, Kamrup (India), Nepal America International Film Festival 2023, International Conference on Language Documentation & Conservation at University of Hawaiʻi (US), Lanham (US), Balkan Can Kino, Athens (Greece), Bozok Film Festivali, Yozgat (Turkey), Festival RNAB, Sao Paulo, and Lift-Off Filmmaker Sessions, Buckinghamshire (UK).
Gyani Maiya (English)
ज्ञानी मैया (Nepali)
A formerly hunter-gather community stopped speaking their language for two generations, and linguists have predicted its death, declaring an 83-year-old the last living speaker. Will her lamenting revive the near-extinct language, her only identity?
CAMERAPERSON, RECORDIST, DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER
Subhashish Panigrahi, Uday Raj Aaley (Co-Writer), Sanjib Chaudhary (Co-Writer)
Gyani Maiya Sen-Kusunda (self)
Uday Raj Aaley (self)
COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION/ORIGIN
Kulmor, Dang district, Nepal
Year of Production 2018-2019
10 December 2019 (India—Limited Release)
25 minutes (appx.)
US LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CONTROL NUMBER (LCCN)
DIGITAL OBJECT IDENTIFIER (DOI/EIDR)
Reviews & Publications
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