Ritu Jha –
Nandita Das, film personality and activist, has been picked for Cinequest’s highest honor, the Maverick Spirit Award, for her personal and artistic achievements.
The Indian actor, director, screenwriter and an activist is to be conferred the honor March 5 at the 29th Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, held March 5-17, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The award will be presented on the opening night of the festival, which opens with her biopic Manto, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the iconic Urdu writer and activist Saadat Hasan Manto.
Das both screenwrote and directed the film.
This year Cinequest will include 132 world and US premiere films and virtual reality films from 56 countries. The talent being showcased includes Bill Nighy, Adam Driver, Dev Patel, Elle Fanning, Katie Holmes, Salma Hayek, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Ana Ortiz, Elizabeth McGovern, Alexander Skarsgard, Jeff Daniels, and more! Celebrations, live performances, and creative experiences round out the excitement.
Halfdan Hussey, CEO & co-founder of Cinequest, told indica, “South Asian artists, innovators, and audiences are massively important to our community, our company, and our festival. We’re excited to have Nandita Das, a force of South Asian cinema and activism as a Maverick Spirit Recipient and to be showcasing the work of famous as well as breakthrough Indian artists.” Prior to the screening of Manto, he said, there would be a moderated conversation and the award presentation ceremony for her.
This year, the festival’s theme is ‘The Unexpected: How the best art and technology bring unexpected positives, experiences, and opportunities to our lives.’
While he did not have the figures to say that the Indian participation has increased, Hussey said, “Indian filmgoers have been a major part of the Cinequest community for years.”
Among those attending is Indian-American director Pari Mathur, screening his second film, ‘Lucky Fifty.’ About two struggling young actors, Jay (Lawrence Kao) and Monica (Jaya Prasad), brought together by happenstance, the film depicts how, after finding $50 on the street, they spend a day together, forgetting their troubles.
The festival will also showcase Dev Patel (Academy-Award nominee for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’) in ‘Hotel Mumbai,’ which also stars Armie Hammer.
Cinequest will also bestow its most prestigious award to Bill Nighy. In a special event March 6, that award will be presented in conjunction with the US premiere of ‘Sometimes Always Never,’ starring Nighy.
Previous Maverick Spirit recipients include Nicolas Cage, Harrison Ford, Tatiana Maslany, JJ Abrams, Rosario Dawson, William H. Macy, Gus Van Sant, Spike Lee, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sir Ian McKellen, Neil Gaiman, Alec Baldwin, and Sir Ben Kingsley.