- The South Asian representation at Sundance hints at another year of success for the community at the Park City-hosted film festival.
The relevance and global impact of South Asian content are evident in the launch of the first-ever representation of the community at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival — the “South Asian Lodge.”
Filmmakers Shruti Ganguly and Tanya Selvaratnam collaborated with the nonprofit organization “1497” and created the South Asian Lodge to celebrate South Asian filmmakers and talent, past and present, with three days (Jan 20th–22nd, 2023) of community-focused programming and events, featuring panels and conversations with creatives and executives.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, 1497 was founded two years ago by producer Adeel Ahmed, actor Lipica Shah, and filmmaker and attorney Kamran Khan to support South Asian representation in the entertainment industry. The name comes from the final year before colonizers invaded the nations that comprise South Asia.
The 2023 Sundance Film Festival (January 19-29) has made a comeback as a physical, in-person event, with a riveting screening program, special events, and panels, after two years of operating the festival online (virtual) due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over the last few years at Sundance, stories by a new breed of ingenious filmmakers from the South Asian diaspora and region have left an indelible impression on critics and viewers alike in telling their homegrown stories from their perspective and expression with cinematic distinction.
The 2023 program line-up, too, has a healthy South Asian representation at Sundance and hints at another year of success for the community at the Park City-hosted film festival.
Cannes’ Un Certain Regard Jury winner, “Joyland” (Pakistan, feature spotlight), directed by Saim Sadiq – about the youngest son of a Pakistani family who secretly joins an erotic dance theater and falls for an ambitious trans starlet – has built a tremendous momentum before Sundance: “Joyland” made it to 2023 International Feature Film Oscar nomination shortlist in December (2022).
“Against the Tide” (India, world premiere feature documentary), directed by Sarvnik Kaur, just by the pedigree and glory of previous documentary films from India – “Writing with Fire” (Oscar Nominee-Best Feature Documentary) and “All That Breathes” (2022 Sundance Feature Doc Grand Jury winner, Oscar Nomination Shortlist) – has been garnering excitement in the documentary and film festival world over the last month since it’s official selection announcement at Sundance 2023. “Against the Tide” is a moving portrait of a friendship tested by the strains of the modern world. Two friends, both Indigenous fishermen, are driven to desperation by a dying sea. Their friendship begins to fracture as they take very different paths to provide for their struggling families.
Another official selection at this year’s Sundance that is generating grass-roots applause, “Polite Society” (UK, Midnight Features), tells the story of an aspiring martial artist Ria Khan who believes she must save her older sister, Lena, from her impending marriage. With the help of her friends, Ria attempts to pull off the most ambitious of all wedding heists in the name of independence and sisterhood.
Here are the South Asian films/episodic series at Sundance 2023:
“Against the Tide” (Director: Sarvnik Kaur)
“Joyland” (Director: Saim Sadiq),
“Polite Society” (Director: Nida Manzoor)
“Nocturnal Burger” (Director: Reema Maya),
“White Ant” (Director: Shalini Adnani)
“Poacher” (Director: Richi Mehta)
For more information on the complete program of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, visit https://festival.sundance.org/program/films/
Visit https://www.1497.org/sundance to know more about 1497 and the program at Sundance this year.
Sunil Sadarangani is a Los Angeles-based multiple award-winning producer and writer. He has produced award-winning short films “In Transit” (Shorts TV and Oscar nomination qualifier), “Blind,” “Nova,” and “With You.” He is the co-founder and Director of Programming of the Ojai Short Film Festival, now in its third season. He is a charter member of the Programmers of Color Collective (POC2) and was on the jury of the 2019 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival and was a Senior Assistant Programmer at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. He currently volunteers on the assistant programming committee at Outfest, Los Angeles. Sunil is an officially accredited writer covering film and digital media at leading film festivals and industry award events. The California State Senate has recognized him for his ongoing commitment to creativity and innovation in the Los Angeles community. Sadarangani is the co-founder of Omagination Pictures, a production company representing and producing South Asian creators and stories. He has been instrumental in securing IP content as well as forging associations with industry executives and creators for the company.