I-View Film - Nina's Excellent (New) Adventure
Sometimes life brings the most wonderful things when you least expect them. For me, this journey as a writer started with a bad break-up, you know the kind that leaves a small grove on the bridge of your nose, from all the conflicted crying fits... Then, my career as a film critic of sorts - though I am more of a promoter, since I refuse to put anyone's hard work down completely the way some film critics do - rolled into my life through a series of coincidences. Now there are more twists and turns to come, which I'll have to share at a later time, but back in July another "accidental event" stumbled into my life: I was asked to be on the Programming Committee of my favorite South Asian film festival: I-View 2010 in NYC.
I-View is a relative newcomer in the arena of film festival and here in the Big Apple, the hip, super-modern, socially conscious incarnation. This September 18th through the 26th it will be bringing fresh South Asian cinema with messages of human rights, gender and sexuality to the forefront, for the third year. And this time, there are fashion shows, album launch parties and panels to blow all other festivals out of the water. If I have tickled your fancy, check out the I-View 2010 website for more info and the complete line-up.
For those of us who love films - and who doesn't?! - attending a film festival is like going on a Haj trip to Mecca. It involves watching movies all day long, hearing filmmakers discuss them after each screening and meeting some favorite celebrities in the process. A truly religious experience. But if you think that's fun - and I do! -
then helping to put together a film festival, being behind the scenes of it is like that multiplied by a thousand. For every bit of stress that pulling it all together brings, there is an equivalent or larger feeling of excitement. I've had butterflies in my stomach since July. I-View begins mid September. You do the math...
I've often wondered why I personally love films, and in particular South Asian cinema, so much. It's partly the star-struck factor, although I hide it well when I need to interview my favorite celebrity, partly the magic of filmmaking (to my fellow filmmakers here at the Divas, I know you completely understand that power!) and partly the escapist force of the movies. Each time I watch a film these days, I stay all the way through the end credits to see if I know any of the crew members on the project. And I giggle with delight when I see a Facebook acquaintance mentioned or the name of a person I once met through my work. I am, undeniably and permanently, in love with the movies.
When Myna Mukherjee, the Executive Director of Engendered - the Transnational Human Rights organization behind the wonder of the I-View Film Festival - asked me if I would be interested in being on the committee back in June, I said yes. I was thinking "Yippie, yippie, yippie!" but kept that out of my email answering hers... I knew it would be a new adventure and that I could bring some of my lilliputian knowledge to the table, while also learning so much in the process. I did not expect to fall deeper into love with cinema in the process. Unlike with human passion, films don't seem to ever disappoint me. I'll take a Friday night cocooned with
with a DVD and friends over a blind date at the hottest NYC restaurant ANYDAY!
So, what did I learn from this new adventure, you ask? I learned that there are people with an even bigger cinema passion than me, and they ALL work for I-View 2010. That to organize a ten-day event, it takes months of hard work, dedication, sleepless nights, negotiations and more-than-gentle nudging to make it all fall into place. I also finally accepted that embracing my ambition as a woman is not a bad thing. That as many "fair weather friends" as we all have, there are twice as many "foul weather friends" waiting in the wings for you to fail. I found that so many out there think of other's successes as their own failures, which my magnificent doctor friend calls "the chicken legs syndrome": two legs on a chicken, many people at the table, not enough to go around, or so they think. He, in his infinite wisdom, suggests buying an extra package of drumsticks to solve that problem...
I learned that filmmakers are gentle, anxious creatures who love their films as if they weretheir children and don't need the cruel hand of the critic to shred it apart. And that although stars can be Divas - and Divos - some are also incredibly giving, excited, supportive and amazing friends, who pull through when you most need them. It may not be a coincidence that the words filmmaker and friend start with the same letter...
But most of all, I learned that I don't know half as much as I think I do about Indian cinema. There are filmmakers to be explored - like Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Onir and Rituparno Ghosh (his acting turn in Just Another Love Story left me breathless!) - actors to meet, films that are MUST-SEEs like I AM and Love, Sex aur Dhokha, documentaries to be watched, such as Bhutto and Without Shepherds. And I hope if you find yourself in NYC, you'll join me from September 18th through the 26th on this wondrous journey through viewing Indian cinema with a conscience!
All images courtesy of I-View and Engendered