CAAM Set to Fund Documentary Films Highlighting Social Issues by Four Indian American Women Filmmakers
Indian American filmmakers Anula Shetty (l) and Reaa Puri’s documentaries are among CAAM’s Social Change Fund awardees. (Cosmic Egg/ Fire Work Media; Reaa Puri/caamedia.org photos)
By REENA RATHORE/India-West Staff Reporter
“Cosmic Egg,” directed by Anula Shetty; “K For Kashmir,” directed by Reaa Puri; “The Last Resort,” directed by Sarita Khurana; and “Paramita,” directed by Kirthi Nath, are among 11 new and in development projects which will be funded by the Center for Asian American Media in the first half of 2021.
The four Indian American filmmakers are among the Social Change Fund awardees. For this fund, CAAM had invited “ambitious, social issue projects, including series that push the boundaries for Asian American storytelling.” With support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the fund offers grants for social issue documentary projects primarily in the research and development phase up to $10,000.
“Cosmic Egg” is a story about the desire for procreation, and the long-term physical and emotional impact of reproductive technologies in a global marketplace.
Set in Mumbai, the film will explore the filmmaker’s personal struggle with infertility and the characters she meets in her journey through the surreal landscape of fertility mythology, egg harvesting, embryo transfers and surrogate motherhood.
“‘Cosmic Egg’ will be a provocative and poignant reflection on the interplay of humanity, society, capitalism, and technology,” CAAM said.
In “K For Kashmir,” Puri travels to her homeland of Kashmir to reconnect with her 90-year-old great-grandmother, when a series of events in the region spark a quest for answers about this contested land and her place in it. As she gets closer with other women in Kashmir, deep connections and deep chasms become magnified, and her questions take on bigger and bigger truths.
“K For Kashmir,” noted CAAM, is a “poetic investigation of what it means to feel belonging, community, and safety in a climate of unprecedented oppression, state-violence, and polarization.”
“The Last Resort” by Khurana is a documentary film about the first South Asian senior retirement community in the United States. Built with the vision of creating “a piece of India in Florida,” its success is part of a new wave of retirement communities designed for immigrant seniors.
Following the daily lives of the residents, “The Last Resort,” according to CAAM, “explores the shifting cultural and familial dynamics of aging; how South Asian seniors are negotiating ideas of home, belonging, death and dying; and of creating new ‘imagined’ communities during the final era of their lives.”
Nath’s “Paramita” is a poetic documentary bearing testament to the story of Prajna Paramita, a South Asian queer woman, as she comes out to her family, steps onto a Buddhist spiritual path and takes her place as an activist and healer.
Describing it as “tactile and dreamlike,” “Paramita,” said CAAM, reclaims South Asian traditions of Buddhism, Ayurveda and earth-based mysticism.
Prajna Paramita’s story, explained CAAM, mirrors the living questions: How do we honor and find bridges to our cultural traditions when our families reject us in our romantic (queer) love and livelihood choices; How can we embody resistance and take our place in a white-centering American system that teaches us to hate our bodies and experience our own ancestral wisdom through a colonized lens?