Filmmaker, Eco-Activist, TED Fellow
Shalini Kantayya's work focuses on human rights at the intersection of water, food, and energy. Her feature screenplay, Dark Tide, inspired by the Detroit water shut-offs, is a finalist at the Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Screenwriters Lab. A William D. Fulbright Scholar, Kantayya won Best Documentary at the Asian American Film Festival for her film Manthan. Kantayya is currently working on the feature documentary Solarize This. A Sundance Fellow and a TED Fellow, Shalini has lectured at respected colleges including Harvard, Yale, Wesleyan, Northeastern and USC.
The mission of Kantayya's production company, 7th Empire Media, is to create a culture of human rights and a sustainable planet through wildly imaginative media that makes a real social impact. Her clients include the ACLU, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, History Channel, and Link TV. She was nominated for the Reebok Human Rights Award and received a Senior Performing Arts Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies.
Kantayya is currently working on the feature documentary Solarize This, which was awarded the 2012 MacArthur Foundation Documentary Film Grant. In a city where oil spills, air quality red-alerts, and poverty are commonplace, Solarize This asks the hard questions of how a clean energy economy may actually be built, through the stories of unemployed American workers seeking to retool at a solar power jobs training program in Richmond, California. The film was nominated by the Sundance Documentary Program for a Hilton Worldwide Sustainability Award, and anticipates release in 2013.
Inside the Mounting Water Crisis
Having come of age between Brooklyn and Bombay, Kantayya first became passionate about water rights while filming at the Kumbha Mela, a religious festival that happens at the confluence of three sacred rivers. She found the statistics alarming: two-thirds of the world's people will not have adequate access to clean drinking water by the year 2027. And there are no borders to this crisis. As demand rapidly exceeds supply, every species on the planet is in danger. Your access is at risk. The question is what will you do about it? In this gripping film screening and interactive talk, Shalini Kantayya fuses personal and political to explore the mounting worldwide water crisis, helping audiences to see water as a basic human right and inspiring them to make change.
An Evening with Filmmaker and Eco-Activist Shalini Kantayya
Shalini Kantayya was the only woman to finish in the top 10 out of 12,000 filmmakers in On the Lot, the Steven Spielberg show in search of Hollywood's next great director. Having come of age between Brooklyn and Bombay, Kantayya draws from her experience straddling cultures to talk about the courage to follow a dream. What is it like trying to break through as a woman film director, when women made up only 5% of Hollywood directors in 2011? Fusing the personal and the political, Kantayya discusses her relationship with her immigrant mother, the struggle to be an artist, and the circuitous path to success. In this entertaining and interactive presentation, Kantayya uses clips from her award-winning films to address why more films written and directed by women would transform culture on a mass scale.
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