After Sundance

So how did the desi films do at Sundance? If you recall, three were playing. After digging a little, I was finally able to find some info. First, from MTV Music News:

Another film that would have a hard time debuting anywhere but within the experimental embrace of Sundance is "Punching at the Sun," a heart-tugging New York-set drama that has studio scouts drooling over the urban tale's crossover appeal. "It's the story of a boy whose older brother is murdered, and he's dealing with the death and going through a tough time," writer/director Tanuj Chopra recounted. "It has some redemption in it. We shot in Elmhurst, Queens, with kids from the community, and it's a completely independent film."

According to star Misu Khan, the film offers a distinctive mix of politics, hip-hop and inner-city sports. "The basketball element is that my brother who dies in the movie is one of the greatest players in Queens, and I try to follow his footsteps and take things into my hands. ... The audience really loved it."

"We're one of the smaller films in this festival," admitted Chopra, a passionate film-school student. "This film has a lot of heart, but people are going to have to come find it and discover it. Sundance is about big films and small films; it's supposed to be about finding new people, new talent and new discoveries."

You can find some pictures of the Punching crew at Sundance here. And as for Man Push Cart, they attracted attention from none other than Mr. Roger Ebert himself:

PARK CITY, Utah – On the last day of Sundance 2006, I went to see one final film, named "Man Push Cart." It was playing at 8:30 a.m. in the Prospector Square Theater, which is a large room filled with fairly comfortable folding chairs. The movie tells the story of a young man who was once a rock star in his native Pakistan, but now operates a stainless steel push cart on the streets of Manhattan, vending coffee, tea, muffins and bagels ("You want cream cheese?").

The room was filled. In front of me were a woman from Ogden and her brother from Philadelphia. They said they attend Sundance to see films that are really about something. After "Man Push Cart" was over, they said they loved it. So did I. But I loved it not only for itself, but because of the conditions of its making.

At the end of 10 days and hundred of films and hype about movie stars and swag bags and midnight parties, this is what Sundance is really about: This man pushing this cart.

The movie was written and directed by Ramin Bahrani, an American born in Iran. It stars Ahmad Razvi, an American born in Pakistan. It was shot in less than three weeks, on a small budget, with Bahrani grabbing a lot of his shots by filming from across the street.

Going by the todo list of every indie filmmaker (1. make low budget film, 2. get accepted at Sundance, 3. build buzz and get noticed by Roger Ebert, 4. score big distribution deal), these guys have knocked off the first three. Can item #4, the all important payday be far behind? Watch this space!

PS - Photo courtesy Anand Chandrasekaran - the Carma crew went to Sundance as well. More here.

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- January 31, 2006 7:53 PM // Film