Manakamana. 2013. Nepal/USA. Directed by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez. 118 min.
Manakamana is a Hindu temple of the Goddess Durga in central Nepal, where pilgrims from all walks of life travel via cable car to seek fulfillment of their wishes. Directors Spray and Velez, members of Harvard University's Sensory Ethnography Lab, set up a stationary 16mm camera inside a cable car and captured, in uncut 10-minute (400-foot) rolls of film, a range of visitors—men, women, children, teens, and even goats—traveling to and from the temple site. Surprisingly candid and superbly mesmerizing, the film draws viewers into the drama within the cable car, while also retaining the mystery and power of the spiritual seekers' quests. This highly praised ethnographic work focuses on the journey and observational detail rather than direct address. Courtesy of Cinema Guild.