Traverse City Film Festival: Human Pictures, Llc., the production company founded by filmmaker Thomas Morgan, announced that its documentary short, “Waiting for Mamu,” will make its theatrical debut Aug. 23 to Aug. 29 at the Independent Film Center in New York, making it eligible for Academy Award consideration. Earlier this month, the film won the Audience Award in its category at Director Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival 2013, and it became the first official pick for the Sedona Film Festival in February 2014.

“Waiting for Mamu” tells the story of Pushpa Basnet, a 29-year-old social worker in Kathmandu, Nepal, who has changed the lives of more than 100 children who were incarcerated with their parents in local prisons. It was during a tour of a prison, as part of her university studies in social work, that Basnet was shocked to see children sitting on the prison floors. The children had been incarcerated with their parents, which is typical when they lack another guardian. As she turned to leave, an 8-month-old girl tugged at her shawl. “Without saying a word, this little girl was saying ‘Don’t leave me,’” Basnet recalled.

Less than a year later, at age 21, Basnet opened the Early Childhood Development Center and began taking children out of prisons across the country. She houses them, feeds them, sends them to school—she is their "Mamu," which means mother in Nepalese. She has housed more than 100 children over the past nine years and has 50 children who live with her at the Early Childhood Development Center today.

Producer/director Thomas Morgan met Basnet by chance and knew he had to tell her story. The film is an unvarnished look at the difficult truths these children face and at Basnet’s struggles and successes in changing their lives.

"It is an honor to receive the audience award at the Traverse City Film Festival, and to be the first official selection for Sedona’s 20th anniversary," Morgan said. "But our main focus remains on Pushpa's organization and her children. Until we are able to use the power of this film to fund her new Butterfly Home and give security to the lives of these children, everything else seems trivial."

"I have had others that have come to me to make a documentary or to tell our story," Basnet said. "They come and they go. Thomas is the first that has come with the full intention of using our story to help our children, and for that I am forever grateful. He is my guardian angel. He has been my Mamu."

Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon and filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ("Supersize Me," CNN’s "Inside Man") served as executive producers of "Waiting for Mamu."

"One of the most beautiful and hopeful stories I've ever seen," Spurlock said. "From the moment Thomas first told me about the project, I knew I had to do anything I could to help him get it made."

“Waiting for Mamu” will run at 12:40pm from Aug. 23 to Aug. 29 at the Independent Film Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas, in New York City.

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Check out our interviews with Morgan and Basnet at the 2013 Traverse City Film Festival!

Photo(s) by Thomas Morgan