Peter Shaindlin of Halekulani describes HIFF films as “life-changing experiences,” saying that when you come out of the theater, “you see people laughing, you see people crying, you see people in disbelief.” And he’s right. This festival opens our eyes to a new world that can only be found through film.
At this year’s HIFF closing press conference, the panelists were the directors of films nominated for the Golden Orchid Award. I wasn’t familiar with any of these films prior to this press conference, so my job was to just take notes and let all of the information sink in.
Of all the directors at the press conference, Prashant Bhargava stood out to me. His film, Patang, tells the story of an Indian family, with the country’s kite festival as a backdrop. As soon as Bhargava mentioned a kite festival in which people try to cut each other’s kites, I thought of Khaled Hosseini’s amazing book, The Kite Runner. Bhargava immediately had my attention after that.
Born and raised in Chicago but of Indian descent, Bhargava grew up wanting to find out who he was. His film Patang was the perfect outlet for his soul-searching. “When I go to India,” he says, “I feel alive.”
Bhargava says he “didn’t want to make a Slumdog Millionaire 2 or another Bollywood type of film.” He wants to make something the Indian community can be proud of because this is the first time New Delhi is shown in a positive light on an international stage. He grew up watching his uncles fly kites, so he knew this kite festival would be just the right thing for his film because the Indian community is already supportive of it.
One of the last things Bhargava said was that film making “is like playing a guitar– let it sing and let it come from you.” This really spoke to me, and it was at this moment that I realized I HAVE to see his film!
I was unable to speak with Bhargava, but I think I’ll try to tonight after the 8:45 pm showing of Patang. I did, however, get a chance to speak with HIFF Director Chuck Boller. Speaking with him was such a great experience because, really, who gets the opportunity to do something like that? He told us how impressed he is with our work covering HIFF, and we thanked him for just having the opportunity to do so.