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Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez Interview (Manakamana)

A still from the film Manakamana where a woman in a red clothes and holding a red plastic basket rides the Manakamana cable car, with its window behind her showing mountains and another cable car on the same line.

Manakamana is the first feature collaboration between Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez, where they placed a fixed 16mm camera in a cable-car that takes passengers to and from the Manakamana Temple in Nepal.

Born out of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Laboratory (Leviathan [2012], Sweetgrass [2009]), the eleven portraits in the film are at once a look at the commuters, but also an immersive experience for the spectator, who rides along.

We were very excited to talk about this film with Stephanie and Pacho, who joined us in our studio at OCAD U’s Graduate Gallery during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival to shed light on the Manakamana cable-car, the interaction between its passengers and the camera’s lens, and the creation of an unseen landscape through the passenger’s conversations.

Our interview with Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez was conducted in September of 2013 and was one of four feature interviews in the twentieth monthly issue of The Seventh Art as a “video magazine.” It was released in July 2014 and is part of our TIFF 2013 coverage, along with interviews with Frederick Wiseman, Albert Serra, Corneliu Porumboiu, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Ben Wheatley, Ben Rivers & Ben Russell, Don McKellar, Lukas Moodysson, João Pedro Rodrigues, Ramon Zürcher, Götz Spielmann, Elina Psikou, Mark Peranson, Erik Skjoldbjærg, Bruce LaBruce, Aran Hughes & Christina Koutsospyrou, and Frank Pavich.

By Christopher Heron

Christopher Heron is one of the co-founders of The Seventh Art. He's conducted over 60 long-form interviews for the publication, while also writing and cutting several numerous video essays that investigate formal traits in films and filmmakers. He received his MA in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto, where his work explored cinematic representations of urban space with special attention paid to the films of Pedro Costa and Tsai Ming-liang.