Shirin Bhandari

Writer, Photographer, Documentary Filmmaker


Shirin Bhandari is an independent writer, photographer, and documentary filmmaker. based in Manila, Philippines. Her work has been featured in Roads and Kingdoms, Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown, Pulitzer Center, SCMP, Women's Media Center, Slate, CNN, and VICE. Shirin is a Logan Nonfiction Fellow for the Carey Institute of Global Good and a member of Woman Photograph.

She has produced documentaries for International Media Support (IMS), UNICEF, European Union Humanitarian Aid, USAID, UNDSS, Save the Children, Action Against Hunger, and CARE. Shirin's stories have touched on important topics on conflict, displacement, climate change, typhoon recovery, malnutrition, HIV, and LGBT/gender-based issues.

Her first feature-length documentary film, “People of the Lake” is a finalist of the IF/Then development lab of the Tribeca Film Institute NYC. It completed a development lab with Asia Doc and the Logan Non-Fiction Program. The film won a production grant from the Film Development Council of the Philippines and is set to be completed in 2024.


Assignments? [email protected]

Pulitzer Center, SCMP, Roads and Kingdoms
The fishermen snared in the Scarborough Shoal dispute

A long-running territorial dispute between China and the Philippines over two rocky features in the South China Sea has impacted the livelihoods of Filipinos who have fished in the area for centuries. The Scarborough Shoal – also known as Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal and which China refers to as Huangyang Island – is located about 220km (137 miles) west of the Philippines’ largest island of Luzon. China, which claims its sovereignty over the whole of the South China Sea, has been...

Queer Festival Heidelberg
Shirin Bhandari - The Show Goes On

In her long term documentation, Shirin Bhandari makes friends with the Golden Gays, a group of elderly drag performers in Manila. Her intimate snapshot portraits and dressing room scenes initiate a visual and emotional understanding for the lives, relationships and community of her protagonists.

Slate Magazine
In Overcrowded Manila, Cemeteries Are Homes for the Dead and the Living

Each week, Roads & Kingdoms and Slate publish a new dispatch from around the globe. For more foreign correspondence mixed with food, war, travel, and photography, visit its online magazine or follow @roadskingdoms on Twitter. Carolyn fetches a small bucket of water to fill the concrete vases. "Bend the stems," she says.

Roads & Kingdoms
What to know before you go to Manila

Manila is an underrated hub for art and culture, with a unique legacy of Chinese, Spanish, and American influences in architecture, cuisine, and customs. My hometown has a reputation for chaos. Overpopulation, traffic jams, natural disasters, and plenty of man-made ones. Manila is one of the in the world, home to almost 13 million people.

Explore Parts Unknown
The Perfect Day in Amritsar

The sacred land of turbans and ghee, Amritsar is a city of about a million in the state of Punjab, in northern India. It is situated across the Pakistani border on the Grand Trunk Road, one of Asia's longest and oldest routes.

Roads & Kingdoms
Dinner on the Grand Trunk Road - Roads & Kingdoms

Amritsar was the end of the line. For years I travelled-and dreaded-the same route from Delhi to my father's northern hometown. It was the last stop by train along the plains of the Indian section of the Punjab region, and a gateway to the Himalayas. The train would start from Delhi filled with locals.