Gingger Shankar, Director, Himalaya Song
The day started with the most inspiring morning at the Women in Film Brunch. There was a sobering speech by Catherine Hardwicke. It was amazing to hear how after Twilight (which made $69 million in its opening weekend) she still couldn’t get meetings to direct after that. She couldn’t even get a meeting for the film The Fighter.
The president of WIF, Cathy Schulman, and Sundance Institute Executive Director, Keri Putnam, spoke about how women only direct 5% of the films in Hollywood and that number has not changed since 1998! This year, of the feature films and documentaries selected to Sundance, 27% of them were directed by women! What is so exciting is how Sundance and WIF are looking to change those numbers and create much better resources for all of us to draw from.
We also had the world premiere of Himalaya Song today. Dave Liang, Mridu Chandra and I created this multimedia/live performance piece for New Frontiers and the excitement has been building up for us to this day.
Himalaya Song is an experimental film with live narration and music. It was a big lesson for us in how art really does meet technology. New Frontiers’ whole theme this year is about the future and technology and there is no way we could have made this project happen without it. For starters, we were able to record musicians from around the world while Dave and I were in LA and NY. On the visual side, we got really stunning footage and photographs from artists that have documented the Himalayas for years. They were so generous in wanting to help with this project and the issues we are covering. We also had the chance to work with some very gifted artists and painters in China, Turkey, London, India. We even had some paintings commissioned for our film by a Leeds born painter, Kamaljeet Ajimal.
We performed it at New Frontiers to a packed house and the audience was so incredibly responsive! To be able to bring a project like this, which deals with such important issues, to a live stage was always a question. So it was exciting when we finally we finally saw that it translated to audiences. We can’t wait for the next one at UMOCA!
And now for a few highlights from my trip so far:
-Running into other Sundance Composers Lab Fellows at the Kimball Art Center. Peter Golub (our mentor and head of the Film Music Program at Sundance Institute) always seems to bring us all together!
-Sam Pollard and Mridu arguing at the Directors Brunch about whether Ryan Gosling is hot or handsome.
-Mridu and I learning how to make dumplings from scratch at Jennifer 8 Lee’s dumpling party while Dave was just trying to break the frozen ones apart!
-Dave, Sean Hackett (Homecoming), and I getting unusually competitive and aggressive at the basketball arcade game during the Shorts Awards Party at Jupiter Bowling Alley. Once they shut off all the arcade games, it turned into a full fledged game of Horse (which subsequently turned into a game of Pig because there was not a lot of athletic talent in the bunch).
Gingger Shankar is a Sundance Institute Alumni Advisory Board Member and the director of the 2012 New Frontier installation Himalaya Song.