Feature Films (In-Competition)

Ottaal (The Trap)

Director: Jayaraj Rajasekharan Nair
Country: India
Year: 2014
Premiere: Chicago
Runtime: 1 hour 21 minutes
Language: Malayalam
Subtitles: English
Cast: Shine Tom Chacko, Kumarakaom Vasudevan, Master Ashanth, K Sha, Thomas J Kannampuzha, Sabitha Jayaraj, Master Hafis Muhammed, Unni Ariyanoor

Synopsis:
Loosely based on Anton Chekhov’s Vanka, OTTAAL centers on eight-year-old orphan Kuttappayi who goes to live with his grandfather in Kerala. Life is idyllic in the countryside … till it isn’t. Kuttappayi’s grandfather falls ill, and an opportunity arises for the young boy to go to school in the city. But all is not as it seems. By focusing on this one child, OTTAAL tells the story of millions of children caught in the crosshairs of poverty and abusive business practices.

Director Jayaraj Rajasekharan Nair

Jayaraj Rajasekharan Nair is a critically acclaimed and award-winning Indian filmmaker. Born in Kerala, he has an electronics and telecommunications background. His interest in films helped him meet his mentor Malayalam’s renowned filmmaker, Bharathan. Their collaboration would continue to six more films including Vaishali in 1988. Two years later, Jayaraj would go on to make his directorial debut, Vidyarambham. In a career that has spanned two decades, Jayaraj has won numerous accolades in India and around the globe. He has won the Crystal Bear in Berlinale 2016 for his film, Ottaal – The Trap. He is a six-time National Award winner; he is the only director to have won both the Golden Peacock and Golden Crow Pheasant at the International Film Festival of India and International Film Festival of Kerala respectively. He has made 37 films in different Indian languages including Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. He currently working on the trilingual film, Veeram, which is also the fifth film in the nine-film series based on the Navarasas, that he started work in 1999 with Karunam.


Pathemari

Director: Salim Ahamed
Country: India
Year: 2015
Premiere: US
Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes
Language: Malayalam
Subtitles: English
Cast: Mammootty, Salim Kumar, Srinivasan, Joy Mathew, Jewel Mary

Synopsis:
Spanning five decades, Pathemari is Narayanan’s immigration story. He starts his journey in the ‘60s heading to the Gulf in a dhow (a generic sailing vessel) ready to take any job to support his family. As the years pass, he earns success; provides his family a comfortable life but always longs to go back to his life in Kerala. His family exploits every opportunity to use his success. He eventually dies far away from him family and without ever being able to enjoy the life he created.

Director Salim Ahamed

Salim Ahamed is an Indian film director, screenwriter and producer. After working as a travel consultant for a while, he joined a television channel as a creative director and script writer. His directorial debut, Adaminte Makan Abu (2011), fetched him numerous accolades and was screened at many international film festivals. It was also chosen as India’s official entry in the Best Foreign Film category for the 84th Academy Awards. Salim’s second project Kunjananthante Kada, released on 30 August 2013.


Nil Battey Sannata (The New Classmate)

Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Country: India
Year: 2015
Premiere: Chicago
Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes
Language: Hindi
Subtitles: English
Cast: Swara Bhaskar, Riya Shukla, Ratna Pathak Shah, Pankaj Tripathi

Synopsis:
Set in Agra, India, Nil Battey Sannata is a story of Chanda, a domestic help and her 14-year-old daughter, Appu. Chanda is determined to educate her daughter to break the cycle but Appu is happy to take over being a household help from her mother, and is not interested in studying. Chanda decides to enroll in school, with the help of her employer, to encourage her daughter to complete her education. Competition challenges their relationship creating distance between mother and daughter. In a country where one-third of girls drop out of schools and the education system, this film highlights Chanda’s empowered journey to earn her and her daughter their right place in the sun.

Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

A gold medalist from Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai, Ashwini has spent 16 years in the advertising agency Leo Burnett telling stories for the biggest brands in India and Southeast Asia. She had several awards (Cannes Lions, New York festival, One show, Clio, D&AD) in her kitty. Her short film, What’s For Breakfast, won a national award and changed her course to film direction. She is also a contributor in an interior magazine, does editorial photography and curates the Facebook page ‘No Makeup Story. She is reviving arts and crafts in India and strongly believes in women empowerment. She gives her best shot at being a good mother to twin children and also doubles up being her husband’s DA in his advertising and feature films. When not doing any of these things, she can be found somewhere near Mother Earth smelling the flowers, meditating and living the moment.


Moh Maya Money (In Greed We Trust)

Director: Munish Bhardwaj
Country: India
Year: 2016
Premiere: Chicago
Runtime: 1 hour 49 minutes
Language: Hindi
Subtitles: English
Cast: Ranvir Shorey, Neha Dhupia, Vidushi Mehra, Ashwath Bhatt, Devendra Chowhan

Synopsis:
Moh Maya Money is a story about Delhi-based Aman, employed as a real estate broker in a multinational, who often skims money from his company. His greed for the good life gets the better of him when he finds out about a huge deal in his company. For a bigger piece of the pie he passes that opportunity to Raghuveer, a small-time real estate broker and a thug. Through a series of unfortunate events the deal snowballs, putting him and his wife, Divya, in danger. To fix things, he involves his wife in this desperate white collar crime which entangles complete strangers, leading to an end neither could imagine.

Director Munish Bharadwaj

Munish Bhardwaj graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India in 1993. His thesis film (‘The Tutor’ – 35mm, B/W, 32 mins) was based on Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. He Has worked on films of directors Rajat Kapoor, Kumar Shahani, Mani Kaul and Sashi Kumar. Munish was the Executive Producer of the critically acclaimed 2013 Rajat Kapoor-directed Ankhon Dekhi (Before my Eyes). He has also have written for television series such as Bhanwar (Whirlpool), Rajdhani (The Capital) and Hadsa (The Incident) in the past. Munish has been involved with the theatre as a director, actor and producer for over 25 years. Moh Maya Money (In Greed We Trust) is his first feature as a writer and director.


Kaash (If Only)

Director: Ishaan Nair
Country: India
Year: 2015
Premiere: US
Runtime: 1 hour 46 minutes 19 sec
Language: Hindi
Subtitles: English
Cast: Kalki Koechlin, Nidhi Sunil, Kavya Trehan,Varun Mitra, Shikha Talsania

Synopsis:

Kaash, explores the endless possibilities of “if only.” Tired of a relationship that he fears is on its last leg, Aadil – a photographer and a dreamer– embarks on a journey from Bombay (Mumbai) to Gujarat, to meet a girl he has vaguely connected with over the internet. The girl he meets, Khushali, triggers memories of his girlfriend Samira – a Bollywood starlet on the rise. The more he gets to know Khushali, the more he is reminded of Samira. The film becomes a reference to his past, revealing the vagaries of his relationship. The film also acts as a metaphor for the “journey of the self”–weighing possibilities and paths, attempting to balance stability and spontaneity, dreams and reality. As he travels, Aadil meets the characters in Khushali’s life. With haunting Kutch as the landscape, the viewer is drawn into Aadil’s world, where any path is possible, but the catch lies in which one he would not take.

Director Ishaan Nair

Ishaan Nair, filmmaker and photographer, completed his degree in direction and cinematography at the School of Visual Arts in New York. His thesis film Guroor won him the best director award at the Dusty film festival, a nomination at the IAAC, NY festival and was selected at River-to-River, Florence. With an innate talent for photography he has also shot covers and editorials for Harper’s Bazaar, L’officiel, Marie Claire, Filmfare , Grazia & Drew Italia. Kaash, marks his directorial debut. Presented by Mira Nair, Irrfan Khan and Shimit Amin, the film had its world premiere at Tokyo International, followed by its Indian premiere at the Mumbai International film festival, followed by South Asian international in New York. Kaash is now headed to Chicago for it’s premier at CSAFF, even as it gears up for a nationwide Indian release early 2017.


Chauthi Koot (The Fourth Direction)

Director: Gurvinder Singh
Country: India
Year: 2015
Runtime: 1 hour 55 minutes 40 sec
Language: Punjabi
Subtitles: English
Cast: Harnek Aulakh, Gurpreet Bhangu, Rajbir Kaur, Kanwaljit Singh, Shavinder Vicky

Synopsis:

The Punjab. It’s the mid ‘80s. A train journey to Amritsar. A dog that barks. The dilemmas and fears of average people caught between the Indian Army and Sikh separatists.

Director Gurvinder Singh

Gurvinder Singh, from Delhi, has been heavily influenced by his family’s history. The Punjabi language linked him to his family’s and the region’s history which had many stories from people who were forced out of their homes during India’s partition in 1947. As Singh grew in the India of the 1980s, he encountered contemporary Punjabi literature in the light of militancy in the primarily agrarian state. Through music and stories, came Singh’s first film, Alms for a Blind horse (Anhey Ghorey da daan), based on Gurdial Singh’s novel. Chauthi Koot has also come from short story by Punjabi writer Waryam Singh Sandhu. In fact Chauthi Koot combines two two stories – The Fourth Direction’ and ‘I am Fine Now’.


Island City

Director: Ruchika Oberoi
Country: India
Year: 2015
Premiere: PENDING
Runtime: 1 hour 51 minutes 04 sec
Language: Hindi
Subtitles: English
Cast: Vinay Pathak, Amruta Subhash, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Sameer Kochhar, Uttara Baokar, Ashwin Mushran, Sana Amin Sheikh

Synopsis:

The film follows three comic-drama stories set in Mumbai. The first story is about a middle-aged man who wins the office ‘Fun Committee Award’, which gives him a whole day of compulsory fun, much to his reluctance. Prescribed fun modules have to be completed and non-compliance is not an option. The second story begins with a domineering pater familias, Anil, who is on life support. Seeking some relief, his family decides to buy a TV, which Anil had banned. Now every night the family plugs into a popular soap whose hero is a man ideal in every way. The third story centers on Aarti whose repetitive existence is slowly making her mechanical and numb. Deep inside her ferments a disconnect and unease that she is unable to articulate to anyone. Then one day an intimate letter arrives and everything changes.


Masaan

Director: Neeraj Ghaywan
Country: India
Year: 2015
Premiere: Chicago
Runtime: 1 hour 44 minutes
Language: Hindi
Subtitles: English
Cast: Richa Chadda, Shweta Tripathi, Sanjay Mishra, Vicky Kaushal, Pankaj Tripathy, Vinit Kumar, Bhagwan Tiwari, Bhupesh Singh, Satya Kam Anand

Synopsis:

Award-winning Masaan, set in Uttar Pradesh, is Devi’s and Deepak’s story, both of whom are trying to get away from the moral constructs of small town India that interfere with modern India. Devi bears the brunt of scandal from the guilt of a sexual encounter that ended in a tragedy and tries to move away while Deepak moves away to forget his love for a girl from another cast he lost prematurely. Both of them meet at the Sangam in Allahabad, intersecting their lives and struggles.


Premaya Nam (Dirty, Yellow Darkness)

Director: Kalpana Ariyawansa and Vindana Ariyawansa

Country: Sri Lanka
Year: 2014
Premiere: Chicago
Runtime: 1 hour 36 minutes
Language: Sinhalese
Subtitles: English
Cast: Shyam Fernando, Samanalee Fonseka, Suranga Ranawaka

Synopsis:

Premaya Nam is a story about Vishwa, and his wife Samadi, who seem to have it all. Except that he suffers from a severe obsessive-compulsive disorder– the fear of his own urine and all that it contaminates. Unable to tolerate his strange behavior, Samadi leaves him. Vishwa loses his job and descends into prescription drug abuse. Vishwa reluctantly admits himself to a public mental hospital. At the hospital, Vishwa has eye-opening and hilarious encounters with the other patients, giving him a new appreciation for life. He leaves the hospital searching for his wife and his life. Against the wishes of her parents Samadi returns to Vishwa but soon realizes he hasn’t changed, and leaves him once again. Alarmed by Samadi’s resolve, Vishwa realizes he must take control of his illness or forever lose the woman he loves.

Director Kalpana Ariyawansa and Vindana Ariyawansa

Premaya Nam is Vindana’s directorial debut and was written & directed with his brother Kalpana and is based on his own real-life experiences.

Kalpana, with a BFA in visual communication from the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, he initially worked as a concept and storyboard artist in the animation and advertising industries. In 2012, Kalpana was assisting Sri Lankan director Prasanna Vithanage on the screenplay for his seventh feature film With You, Without You (Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka), which has since won five international festival awards.

Vindana started his career in media at the age of 10 as a radio voice artist. Filmmaking came his way while studying Computer Engineering at the University of Kentucky. He wore different hats of freelance consultant in marketing, media, and information technology, and as a bilingual copywriter; in 2011, he began writing reviews of Hollywood films for Sri Lanka’s oldest and leading arts newspaper, Sarasaviya. Vindana has also worked on the screenplay of With You, Without You (Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka) with Vithanage. Currently, he is working as an executive producer on Vithanage’s first documentary feature Silence of the Courts (in post-production). He blogs in English and Sinhala while also writing a book personally chosen fifty greatest film directors.


Matir Projar Deshe (Kingdom of Clay Subjects)

Director: Imtiaz (Bijon) Ahmed
Country: Bangladesh
Year: 2015
Premiere: Chicago
Runtime: 1 hour 28 minutes 51 sec
Language: Bengali
Cast: Mahmudur Anindo, Sheuly Aktar, Monir Ahmed Shkeel, Chinmoyee Gupta, Rokeya Prachy, Jayanta Chattopadhyay
Synopsis:

Set in rural Bangladesh, Matir Projar Deshe, is 10-year-old Jamal’s story. His life includes his best friend, 12-year-old Lokkhi and his mother Fatima. One day Lokkhi finds out that she is to be married the next day. Jamal tries to unsuccessfully save her. He goes back to his life in the village after Lokkhi leaves but feels bereft. Trying to find his purpose in life, Jamal tries to register in school but is unable to. The next day, Fatima goes to the school to fix the problem and Jamal starts school. The headmaster’s assistant, Masud, recognizes Fatima as a prostitute from an earlier life and starts blackmailing her. She decides to go to Masud’s house to save her son’s future. She falls into Masud’s trap as he sets up a village court waiting for her. The crowd decide to lash her the next day as punishment and locks her up in the school building while humiliating the Hujur or the priest. Jamal rescues his mother and along with Hujur, they flee the village for a new beginning.

Director Imtiaz (Bijon) Ahmed

Bijon is the first Bangladeshi Film Production/Directing MFA- graduate from the prestigious Film, Television, and Theatre Department of University of California, Los Angeles. His debut feature film Kingdom of Clay Subjects has World Premiered at 42nd Seattle International Film Festival. He has received numerous awards for his filmmaking including Motion Picture Association of America Awards, Edie and Lew Wasserman Film Production fellowship, Dorothy Arzner Memorial Awards, and The Nancy Richardson Fund. Bijon’s documentary proposal Beyond the Waves won the Colors of Asia competition at Tokyo Docs.


Aligarh

Director: Hansal Mehta
Country: India
Year: 2016
Premiere: Chicago
Runtime: 1 hour 54 minutes 57 sec
Language: Hindi
Subtitles: English
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Ashish Vidyarthi, Gauri Balaji

Synopsis:

A true story of Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, who was suspended from his job because of his sexual orientation.


Lyari Notes

Director: Miriam Chandy Menacherry, Maheen Zia
Country: Pakistan
Year: 2015
Premiere: Chicago
Runtime: 1 hour 10 minutes
Language: English, Hindi, Urdu
Subtitles: English

Synopsis:

Lyari Notes is set in Lyari, a volatile neighborhood in Karachi, Pakistan. Humza Jafri, a rock star in Pakistan, has taken to teaching music to a group of girls as a form of self-expression in those violent and oppressive surroundings. Jafri and wife, Nida Butt, over a period of 3 years, coached 11-year-old Aqsa and her three friends. Their battle to teach girls music included fighting social norms, security concerns and sheer apathy in a region where violent attacks happened all the time. An armed escort to music lessons was but a regular affair. Promoting music to encourage dreams is Lyari Notes

Director Miriam Chandy Menacherry and Maheen Zia

Miriam Chandy Menacherry (Producer/Co Director from India) – Miriam is the Founder, Director at Filament Pictures, a Mumbai-based production house. She has produced award-winning films broadcasted on channels like the National Geographic channel, BBC world and Arte. Her last documentary, The Rat Race, weaves together the narratives of rat killers in Mumbai. It won the Mipdoc Co production Challenge at Cannes, premiered at IDFA and won the audience awards at Florence and Kerala. It is one of the rare documentaries to get theatrical releases in 3 Indian cities, winning critical and popular acclaim.

Maheen Zia (Director and Co-producer from Pakistan) – Maheen is a Pakistani film director and editor. She has a degree in radio/tv production from Drake University, USA and teaches at the Department of visual studies, Karachi University. She is one of the founding members of Pakistan’s young international film festival – The Kara Film Festival and has served as a juror at international film festivals in Tehran, Tampere, Hyderabad and Kabul. She is the winner of the India EU Film initiative- Berlin Today Award- for her film `Match Factor’.


Silvat

Director: Tanuja Chandra
Country: India
Year: 2016
Runtime: 42 Min
Language: Hindi
Cast: Karthik Tewari, Meher Mistry
Synopsis:

In Silvat, Noor has been living by herself for five years after her husband takes up a job abroad in the first week of their marriage. She seldom hears from him; sometimes a letter, a rare phone call or through the money he sends her every 3 months or so. Her married life is a never-ending wait for her husband to return someday. Until one day she realizes that she has fallen in love with a much younger man, a tailor named Anwar. Her feelings are reciprocated but Anwar fails to see the unspoken love she harbours for him, and thinks his love will remain unrequited. Can she keep up with the role of playing a devout wife to her husband or will she give in to the lover she yearns for?

Director

Tanuja Chandra is popularly known as a woman’s director because of her woman-centric movies where heroines are the main protagonists. She began her career as a director in 1995 with the TV series Zameen Aasmaan. But it wasn’t long before she became successful in Bollywood. In 1997, she wrote the screenplay for Yash Chopra’s Dil Toh Pagal Hai, a commercial success in the industry. Two years later she made her directorial debut with Dushman. The movie received critical praise. Her fcilms Sur – The Melody of Life and Film Star have won her praises for her work as a writer and a director.


Waiting

Director: Anu Menon
Country: India
Year: 2015
Premiere: Chicago Premiere
Runtime: 1 hour 34 minutes 36 sec
Language: Hindi
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Kalki Koechlin, Rajat Kapoor, Suhasini Ratnam, Arjun Mathur

Synopsis:

In Waiting, young, outspoken, and impassioned Tara Deshpande receives tragic news: Her husband of only six weeks has slipped into a coma after a car accident. Despondent and desperate for answers in a situation where she has little control, Tara finds an unlikely friend in Shiv, a gentle and hopeful man who has become a regular in the hospital where his wife has been in a coma for over 8 months. They can relate to each other deeply, both isolated from other support and waiting for an optimistic outcome. However, as each reaches an important crossroads in caring for their spouses, Tara and Shiv realize that their fear of change is holding them back from making necessary decisions.

Director Anu Menon

After a decade of strategic planning in advertising agencies in India and Singapore, Anu Menon decided to give it all up for filmmaking. She graduated from the London Film School with an MA in Filmmaking and a rare distinction. Her short films Ravi Goes to School, Fock Helen and Harry and Baby have been screened at various film festivals like Tribeca, Edinburgh International Film Festival. Her first feature film London Paris New York, a 20th Century Fox presentation, was released in March 2012 to critical acclaim. Waiting is her second feature film. Anu lives in London and works between India and the West.


The Tiger Hunter

Director: Lena Khan
Country: United States
Year: 2016
Premiere : Chicago
Runtime: 1 hour 28 minutes 38 sec
Language: English
Cast: Danny Pudi, Rizwan Manji, Jon Heder, Karen David, Kevin Pollak, Sam Page, Iqbal Theba, Kay Kay Menon, Parvesh Cheena

Synopsis:

The Tiger Hunter is the story of Sami Malik, a young Indian who travels to 1970s America to become an engineer to impress his childhood crush and live up to the legacy of his father—a legendary tiger hunter back home. When Sami’s job falls through, he takes a low-end job and joins a group of oddball friends in hopes of convincing his childhood sweetheart that he’s far more successful than he truly is…or perhaps ever could be.

Director Lena Khan

Lena received undergraduate degrees from University of California, Los Angeles in political science and history. She then graduated from the prestigious UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. Lena has been directing short films, commercials and music videos for international artists. Her videos have had tremendous international exposure. Lena has also gained experience working at noted production companies such as Participant Productions. Her work has been featured in the media — The Guardian, The New York Times, and USA Today. Along with running a blog and conducting workshops for young filmmakers, Lena brings her unique vision and visual style to her first feature film, The Tiger Hunter. She is currently working on her second film and a TV show.


Budhia Singh: Born To Run

Director: Soumendra Padhi
Country: India
Year: 2016
Premiere: World
Runtime: 1 hour 36 minutes
Language: Hindi
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee
Synopsis:

Based on a true story, Budhia Singh: Born To Run is about that world’s youngest marathon runner, Budhia Singh. After traumatic beginnings, Budhia is rescued by the local judo coach, Biranchi Das. Das accidentally discovers his talent for long-distance running. He starts training Budhia to become India’s first and world’s youngest marathon runner. Within a year, the remarkable 5-year-old runs 48 marathons. With the world’s eyes on them, opportunistic war brews between lawyers, child welfare and the state politicians. Is this a tale of an extraordinary talent or a darker one of politics and child exploitation?


Special Mention Films:

With This Ring

Director: Anna Sarkissian and Ameesha Joshi
Country: Canada
Year: 2016
Premiere: United States
Runtime: 1 hour 30 minutes 18 sec
Language: English, Hindi
Cast: Mary Kom, Sarita Devi, Chhoto Loura

Synopsis:

Filmed over six years, With This Ring follows three boxers on the Indian women’s national boxing team as they rise to the top of their game. Mary Kom, Chhoto Loura, Sarita Devi and the other boxers have struggled to outperform the world’s top athletes. With defined biceps and fierce independence, they are nothing like the typical Indian women. They’ve been fighting tradition in a country where women are expected to be docile. This feature-length documentary lets you step into the ring with the 40-people strong team and follow their meteoric rise to the world championships in 2006 where they made a clean sweep — winning eight medals and the championship team title. The playing field changed dramatically in 2009 when the International Olympic Committee announced that women’s boxing would become an Olympic sport for 2012. Since then the level of play has gone up significantly and the world’s best are fighting tooth and nail for an Olympic berth.

Ameesha Joshi – Co-Director, Co-Producer

Ameesha Joshi is a Toronto native, who graduated with a B.A. in psychology from Waterloo University in Ontario. She went on to work in the software industry for seven years before discovering her interest in filmmaking. Her first short film The Red Glove was about an amateur boxer and was made through the Atlantic Filmmakers Co-operative’s FILM 5 development program in Nova Scotia. It was during the making of this film she developed an appreciation for the sport. She completed her Bachelors and Masters of fine arts at Concordia University in Montreal and enjoys working in both documentary and fiction.

Anna Sarkissian – Co-Director, Co-Producer, Cinematographer

Born in Montreal, Anna Sarkissian is a filmmaker, writer, and anthropologist. Her work has been screened at the Canadian Parliament, in galleries, and on national television. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Montreal’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and her Masters in social anthropology from the University of Oxford. She is currently researching gender and equality in Hollywood for a doctorate in anthropology.


Little India Big Business

Director: Bal Brach
Country: Canada
Year: 2016
Premiere: Chicago
Runtime: 45 minutes 2 sec
Language: English

Synopsis:
The average wedding in North America costs $30,000 but if you’re Indian, in Canada, that cost is $100,000. Little India Big Business explores the growth of big, fat Indian weddings in Canada over the last decade. It reveals the pressures that young South Asians face when planning their weddings. The documentary highlights how lucrative these celebrations are for vendors, the lengths they go to ensure their clients’ needs are met, and the cost of this commercialization on the sanctity of marriage.

Director

Bal Brach is a television journalist with more than a decade of experience working in newsrooms across Canada. She’s worked in front and behind the camera for all three of Canada’s biggest news networks. Little India Big Business is her first documentary film and it aired on CBC television in Canada. Bal wrote, directed and produced the film through her own production company in 2016.


Short Films

Spunkle

Director: Lisa Donato
Country: United States
Year: 2016
Runtime: 13 minutes
Language: English
Cast: Fawzia Mirza, Jake Mathews, Laura Zak

Synopsis:

Tensions rise when a woman and her wife ask her brother to be the sperm donor of their baby…or the uncle…or…the spunkle!


Oliyum Oliyum

Director: Guru CarlMarx
Country: India
Year: 2016
Premiere: World
Runtime: 13 minutes
Language: Tamil
Cast: J.S. John and Salony Luthra

Synopsis:

A independent self-respecting boy and girl who are both blind meet and get together. They don’t feel their sightlessness is a handicap until they could not see their own child.


Sakharam

Director: Sarthak Bhasin
Country: India
Year: 2016
Premiere: Chicago
Runtime: 18 minutes 43 sec
Language: Marathi

Synopsis:
Set in a tiny, tribal village of rural Maharashtra (India), this non-fiction film documents the life of Sakharam Mangya Bhagat. There is a severe scarcity of water in Sakharam’s village. So Sakharam has devised an ingenious solution to this grave water problem- He keeps three wives.


My Muthaland

Director: Yining Zhou, Andrew Fowler, Avinash Chak
Country: United States
Year: 2015
Premiere: World
Runtime: 28 minutes 59 sec
Language: English
Cast: Minita Gandhi

Synopsis:
My Muthaland is the story of an Indian-American actress (Minita Gandhi) who comes to terms with her home country and her father. This short documentary shines a light on the importance of talking about sexual violence. It is also a story about the struggle of melding two different worlds. Finally, “My Muthaland” is about the healing process, not just for Minita, but also for a family. Many of the themes explored in our documentary have been deeply and personally mined by Minita herself.

Director

Andrew Fowler is a video producer based in New York City. He worked on My Muthaland with Yining Zhou and Avinash Chak while earning his master’s degree from Northwestern University. He currently works as a journalist and video producer at Business Insider.

Avinash Chak is an Indian-American multimedia journalist from Cleveland, Ohio. He recently started working at b-yond.tv, a media start-up producing video stories that provide a glimpse of different cultures and communities around the world. Like many Cleveland sports fans, he lives in constant fear of waking up from the dream of winning the 2016 NBA championship.

Yining Zhou is a cinematographer and producer based in Beijing. He received a master’s degree in journalism with concentration of video and documentary production from Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago. Zhou currently works as a video producer for Caixin Media.


Bonjour Ji

Director: Satinder Kassoana
Country: India
Year: 2015
Premiere: Chicago
Runtime: 15 minutes 5 sec
Language: English, French, Punjabi
Cast: Rup Magon, Benjamin Meneghini, Alice Tixidre, Kenny Wong, Mark Aylward, Srishtie Banga, Astrida Auza, Simon Belanger, Manveer Singh, Daphnee Duval, Joan Gosselin, Cindy Piché Bernier, Sabrina Djoghlaf, Tiffany Lu, Yan Nie, Karine Turcot

Synopsis:

Set in Montreal, this short film explores the assumptions we keep and as a result the communication gap between different communities who live and work amongst each other every day.


Babu Ki Duvidha (Babu’s Dilemma)

Director: Collin D’Cunha
Country: India
Year: 2015
Premiere Status: Chicago
Runtime: 23 minutes 44 sec
Language: Hindi
Cast: Ravi Kaiwart

Synopsis:
Babu is an Indian construction worker in Dubai. When one of his colleagues decides to leave for India, all the other workers send gifts for their families but Babu doesn’t have money to send a gift for his wife.

Director

Collin D’Cunha is a graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). He was the co-writer, associate director and editor of his diploma film,Shyam Raat Seher, which went on to win two National Film Awards. His short film Mumbaikar Ganesh was awarded Best Film at the Dimensions Mumbai section of the 2010 Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI). It also won Best Short Film at the Bollywood and Beyond Film Festival in Melbourne, Australia, and screened at IFFLA 2011. Collin works as a freelance assistant director on Hindi feature films and is currently developing his first narrative feature as director.


First Love

Director: Danish Renzu
Country: United States
Year: 2015
Premiere: Chicago
Runtime: 7 minutes
Language: English
Cast: Roopashree Jeevaji, Justin Gordon and Jessica Morris

Synopsis:

A struggling writer discovers her muse when she meets her first love after years of separation.


Fanny Pack

Director: Uttera Singh
Country: United States
Year: 2016
Premiere Status: Chicago
Runtime: 10 minutes 22 sec
Language: English
Cast: Uttera Singh, Brian George, Meera Simhan

Synopsis:

Fanny Pack is a comedy about a young Indian-American woman who wants to follow her dreams, and a fanny pack-clad Indian father who chases his daughter through an airport hoping that she will follow his.

Director

Uttera is an MFA graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She is the recipient of the Ryan Murphy Diversity Fellowship and just finished directing her thesis film Fanny Pack and a proof of concept for a half hour TV show starring Brian George from The Big Bang Theory and Seinfeld. Her one-woman show Indian Lady Shakespeare wears Underwear is set to premiere in Los Angeles in the fall. Uttera was chosen as one of the directors on the USC/James Franco feature film Mad Whale starring Camilla Belle, Dominic Rains, Summer Phoenix and James Franco. Uttera lives in Los Angeles and spends her time going on adventures and then writing about them.


Valery’s Suitcase

Director: Arshad Khan
Country: Canada
Year: 2016
Premiere : World
Runtime: 14 minutes
Language: English
Cast: Ali Momen (Beeba Boys) and Helen Robbie

Synopsis:

A well-educated immigrant working a remedial job in a small town in Canada discovers an abandoned suitcase with an unusual secret.


Kitchens of Gratitude

Director: Vikas Khanna
Country: India
Year: 2016
Premiere : Chicago
Runtime: 12 minutes 28 sec
Language: English

Synopsis:

Kitchens of Gratitude is a short documentary presented by Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna that explores the world of faiths where the common teaching is sharing food with others and breaking the walls that divide us by breaking breads together.

Director Vikas Khanna

Born with misaligned feet, Khanna is a five-time Michelin starred chef who started his journey from rolling breads at the revered Golden Temple in Amritsar, India and soared to establish Junoon, a restaurant par excellence, in New York and now in Dubai. Over the last few years, he has carved a niche for himself as an artist, humanitarian and a renowned documentary filmmaker, besides being the host of of MasterChef India, Twist of Taste on Fox, MegaKitchens on National Geographic. An award-winning, prolific writer and a poet, Chef Khanna has written 23 books ranging from ‘Ayurveda’ to having a conversation with HH Dalai Lama for his 80th birthday in ‘Timeless Legacy’ to his Magnum Opus – Utsav, a culinary epic, pegged to be the largest compilation of culture, heritage and traditions of India through food.