This is a very moving documentary, photographed partly in verite-style, about kids living in a crematorium on the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu, Nepal, where they make their living scavenging from offerings made at a cremation, or in honour of ancestors.
The film spends most of its time watching a couple of kids as they retrieve coins from offerings floated for the dead, or scavenge clothes offered to the dead to take to resellers.
They use magnets to dredge the river floor for fallen coins, and also for gold that was placed in the mouths of the dead. They retrieve wood used in the cremations that is then recycled and take food from offerings (after the crows and dogs have finished).
The other side of the film is watching events at the Shree Pashupatinath Aryaghat Service Center, a hospital alongside the crematorium, from which most do not emerge alive but go straight to the crematorium.
The children also spend time begging at the nearby Gosala street, where the older kids are hooked on glue-sniffing, often to the point where they forget to eat, and their prospects here are grim.
One of the most moving things about this tale of poverty and distress if the young boy Alesh’s love and care for his 4-year old sister, who is unable to look after herself. Their Mother meanwhile, is almost permanently drunk, and unable to look after either of them.
If ever there was a film about how the other half lives this is it. The film was shot and directed by the Korean filmmaker Yi Seungjun, and was released in 2008.
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