Author in The Woodlands receives film festival award for screenplay

By: Kim Kyle Morgan, Woodlands Online
| Published 05/23/2017

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THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- WorldFest-Houston, the third longest-running international film festival in North America, recently wrapped up its 10-day run.

Esther Lum, a resident of The Woodlands, won a Platinum Award in the Drama-Adaptation category for her screenplay "Kidnapped in Kathmandu."

"The festival gets about 4,500 submissions, and they give awards to only the top 15 percent," Lum said, "so it's very exciting to have received one."

Woodlands Online chatted with Lum about her screenplay, the book it was adapted from, and what motivated her to write the story in the first place.

WOL: Where did you get the idea for Kidnapped in Kathmandu?

EL: I was practicing law and traveling a lot in Southeast Asia, when I read some books about the problem of human trafficking. I even saw some of these things firsthand – young girls you just knew were in the sex trade. The books I read had a lot of facts and statistics, but I felt like telling a story would have more impact than just a lot of numbers.

WOL: What is the book about?

EL: It's fiction. An orphaned Nepali girl and her best friend are kidnapped and sold to a brothel in Mumbai. The story takes place between Nepal and India, and has a terrific subplot about the trekking industry. It's a dark story, but it's also a story of hope. There have been other trafficking stories but I feel mine is unique because of the characters and the story line.

WOL: Now that it's a screenplay, what has to happen to make it into a movie?

EL: First, I need to find funding, and then locate a producer, director, cast and crew. I'm hopeful it can be filmed in Nepal, because that's where it mostly takes place. I would like to have authentic Nepalese people acting, although there are some roles for American trekkers.

WOL: This is your first screenplay. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

EL: Check out film festivals. You meet so many inspiring people and they are all very encouraging. WorldFest-Houston has a great record of identifying talent and has given first awards to Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and others. It opens up doors for you.

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