Emmy-winner Geeta Gandbhir: Tough surviving white male-dominated Hollywood

Simran Sethi-

She is a two-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. She has worked with Hollywood icons as Steven Spielberg and Spike Lee. She is an Indian who carved a niche in Hollywood. But Geeta Gandbhir says all this was not easy, especially in the male-dominated world of films.

“I think it is never easy. There are obviously many, many people — for example, my mentor Sam Pollard — who encouraged me. But then there are many, definitely many, walls. In the US, it (the film industry) is a white male-dominated field, and it is white men who often decide what gets funded and what gets made,” Geeta told IANS.

However, things are getting better, she added: “That is shifting, but never quickly enough. I think (it lies in) the perspective, unfortunately, and it’s an exclusive perspective that doesn’t do us good as a society, to not have equality and equity when it comes to the roles that we show and the stories we tell,” she added.

Geeta is now “looking forward to continuing to fight the good fight around this issue of representation for basically anyone who isn’t a white male”.

“My goal is to stand with them in changing this industry,” she added.

Speaking of her projects, Geeta is now coming up with a docu-series titled “Why We Hate” for Discovery. The series will trace the evolutionary basis of hatred and its powerful impact on individuals and societies throughout human history.

“Why We Hate” is produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions. As Speilberg is involved with the project, Geeta could not say no to it.

“Steven Spielberg is an Academy-award-winning filmmaker and a huge influence on filmmakers everywhere. He teamed up with Alex Gibney to make this film. Gibney is also an Academy-award-winning filmmaker. I have worked with Alex in the past, and they brought myself and Sam Pollard onboard, who is my co-director. He’s also my mentor, my friend and colleague. That was a very hard team to resist — when you’re asked to do something for Spielberg and Gibney. And with Mr Pollard, you don’t say no,” she added.

Geeta rose to fame as an editor in Hollywood, working on projects such as “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise Of James Brown”, “Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley” for HBO, which was nominated for an Emmy, besides “When the Levees Broke”, “By the People: The Election Of Barack Obama”, “Music By Prudence”, “Budrus”, “If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don’t Rise”, and “God Is The Bigger Elvis”, which was nominated at the 2012 Academy Awards in the Best Documentary (Short Subject) category.

She has co-directed numerous award-winning films including “I Am Evidence”, “Remembering The Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr.” and “A Journey Of A Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers”.

On her journey from being an editor to director, Geeta said: “I love this industry because I’ve stayed in it, and I love what I do. I think the most important part of it is to make sure that you tell stories that represent communities that are under-represented. For me, it is really important, too, to deal with topics that can impact change and social justice. I think we want to create a better society and a better world and a better future for the next generation.

“So, I would say for me it was a natural segue from editor to director. I think editors are super important, probably because I was one. I feel that they’re really critical to the process and really understand what’s needed to make a great film. So, for me, it’s been a wonderful process and I’m just thankful to still be here doing the work.”