ARPITA KUMAR ON HER AWARD WINNING FILM – MY DEAR AMERICANS
Posted by Vivek on July 10, 2014 | No Comments
Q1) Powerful story, told with a touch of underplaying emotions, talk about that?
Thank you. While writing the screenplay, I tried to go back to the moment when I first came to the U.S. and how all my senses were assaulted by this new world. It was terrifying, electrifying, exhilarating – such a mix of overwhelming emotions and I would often retreat inwards to just observe. The protagonist in the film, Tejpreet, is also a recent arrival and in a state of shock. She can’t express much but is silently absorbing the world around her. This motivated the choices I made as a director in the type of performance I wanted from my actor, Ansuya Nathan.
Q2) On how Project Involved helped out (given that a lot of our audience is from the US)?
Film Independent’s Project Involve is the reason I made this film! I’m so grateful for their unwavering support, guidance, and the community that I got access to. Project Involve invited all the fellows to pitch a short film idea about traditions. I thought it would be interesting to focus on an American tradition but from the point-of-view of an outsider. The tradition had to be the 4th of July holiday. And, I decided on a Sikh couple as the outsiders largely of the shooting in a Sikh Gurudwara in Wisconsin. The white supremacist perpetrator associated the Sikhs with Osama Bin Laden and it shocked me that there was such ignorance about the Sikh community still. It had been more than a decade since 9/11 and the backlash continued. I realized that we cannot do much about the ignorance of others. What we can do is change our reaction to their ignorance. And, that inspired the film and the actions of the wife, Tejpreet. Project Involve loved the screenplay, funded it, got us some great camera package deals, hooked us up with great crew, helped us in post-production – I mean they are the reason have made it so far!
Q3) On your film school experience, since a lot of your alma matter is now very pominent in Bollywood, folks like Navdeep?
My three years in the MFA Film/Video program at CalArts whipped me into shape as a filmmaker. I was exposed to the most audacious cinema. My faculty and colleagues were the best in their field and forever kept me on my toes with my work. They inspire me, question me, support me, and keep me rooted. A good percentage of my crew for this film was made up of fellow CalArtians.
Q4) On the festivals the film has played in and on PBS involvement ?
We have screened at amazing festivals such as Mill Valley, Cleveland (with an honorable mention for Best Women’s Film), Sarasota to name a few. More importantly, we are an official selection for the PBS Online Film Festival and up for the PBS’ People’s Choice Award. The PBS online platform is an amazing opportunity for independent filmmakers like us to get our work shown to a wider audience. I’m thrilled we are on it. Please check My Dear Americans out on PBS and vote for us here: http://www.pbs.org/filmfestival/videos/my-dear-americans/
Q5) What is next for the film and your journey as a filmmaker?
We just got accepted into DC shorts film festival so we are thrilled about that. Folks in DC get your tickets for the fest now! And, I’m working on getting my feature film, Gori, funded and ready for production. It is a psychological thriller based in an all girls school in Lucknow, India. More details here: www.arpitakumar.com