Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Caterpillars and Mushrooms 

Wednesday, May 8 2013
Nepal has a subterranean caterpillar prone to infection by a fungus that mummifies its body before it bursts out of its head and gets harvested by peasants. These peasants, with no other income source, have embarked on an unregulated all-or-nothing business venture and take great risk to scrounge these things and sell them to the Chinese, as a “tonic,” or a hallucinogen, or an aphrodisiac. So that could be, like, three Ridley Scott movies in a row right there, but actually it’s the basis for the documentary Himalayan Gold Rush, whose title rightly evokes the familiar history of rough-and-tumble 19th century Northern California. This is but one of 14 films being shown in the first Himalayan Film Festival, which runs for a few days this week at multiple venues in the East Bay and at San Francisco’s Variety Club Screening Room. Others playing here reveal even more angles on Nepal in chaotic transition. The sudsy, pluralistically inclined narrative film Highway, which Danny Glover helped produce, tracks a street-protest-impeded bus-ride to Kathmandu; Beneath Everest: Nepal Reborn is a four-year nonfiction chronicle of civil war. Although obviously unafraid of the very real tension between cultural cohesion and political entropy, these and the other films at the fest seem to advocate for an exotic new possibility of peace. All it requires is some strange transmutations, like a gutted caterpillar that becomes an erotic mushroom.
May 15-19, 2013

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

Related Locations


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"