Punit Soni is an engineer, investor and advistor to startups. He is an ex-Googler and the former Chief Product Officer of Flipkart, an Indian ecommerce company.
We sat down with Soni to talk about his journey to America from Mumbai, India. What prompted him to pursue a MBA degree after working as an engineer in Silicon Valley for a few years? He did not succeed the first time around in getting into a MBA program. So, What prompted him to try again and again? What did he do differently that got him into Wharton’s MBA program? Armed with a MBA degree Soni joined Google.
LISTEN: PUNIT SONI ON WORKING IN SILICON VALLEY& COMING TO AMERICA:
Disrupt yourself is a mantra that Soni follows and he credits his mother for instilling that thought in him. After working at Flipkart for a year Soni is back in Silicon Valley.
This interview was originally aired on TV in the USA.
We speak with filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra about his new film Mirzya. “It is a film about love,” shares Mehra. The film is set in two, different time periods he adds. We talk to Mehra on how how the idea for the film was born, the preparation that went into making the film, the music and actors, especially how he got to cast Art Malik in Mirzya. Mirzya is also a film about fantasy and we were curious to find out the fantasy influences in the film. Tune in to find out what Mehra has to say about Mirzya.
LISTEN: RAKEYSH OMPRAKASH MEHRA ON MIRZYA
Gulzar wrote the screenplay of Mirzya that is based on Mirza Saiban, a popular Punjabi love story that ends tragically. Why did Saiban break the arrows of Mirza, her lover, was a question that has been on Mehra’s mind for over 30 years. Why do we hurt the people we love is what led Mehra to start a conversation with Gulzar and that is how the idea for making Mirzya was born.
Mirzya is the debut film of Harshvardhan Kapoor, who is the son of Anil Kapoor. The film also sees the debut of Saiyami Kher in Bollywood. Om Puri, Art Malik, Anuj Choudhry, Anjali Patil, KK Raina and others star in the film.
Music is central to Mirzya and it is through music that the essence of the film is conveyed points out Mehra. Mirzya’s music features Punjabi folk music, Hindustani Classical along with jazz, EDM and other global music genres. Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy created the music for Mirzya.
Mirzya releases on October 7, 2016 in USA and you can see the picture in San Francisco Bay area.
We caught up with Zoe Elton, Director of Programming for the 39th Mill Valley Film Festival (Oct 6-16, 2016) to find out what they have in store at this year’s festival. We spoke to her about the film, actors and the new sections they have on Latin America & Culinary Cinema. This is one of the last major film festivals of the year, and this is the festival where the early Oscar buzz starts to gain momentum.
This year’s line-up is a fantastic one and that is reflected in the opening night films: Damien Chazelle’sLa La Land and Denis Villeneuve‘s Arrival. The closing night film is Jeff Nichols‘ Loving and Elton points out that we are going to be hearing a lot about Ruth Negga, the leading actress of the film. Emma Stone, Amy Adams, Chazelle, Nichols and Negga will be there to present their films.
Ewan McGregor is bringing his debut directorial film American Pastoralto the festival. Nicole Kidman is being recognized for her contribution and will be there to present her new film Lion directed by Garth Davis and stars Dev Patel and Rooney Mara.
LISTEN: ZOE ELTON ON FILMS, FILMS & MORE FILMS AT MILL VALLEY FILM: FESTIVAL:
This year’s festival has a special section on Latin American films with Gael Garcia Bernal as their special guest.
Culinary cinema is a new addition in this year’s festival and they have 4 films in the section. One of them is a film on Jeremiah Tower, a celebratory chef, who worked at Chez Panisse and founded Stars restaurant in San Francisco. Tower will be at the film festival.
Sandwiched between the opening and closing night films is a cornucopia of films, live music and seminars that is worth checking out.
Filmmaker Matt Johnson’s Operation Avalanche is set against the space race between US and the USSR during the Cold War period. The film is about the fake landing of Apollo 11 on the moon. The film was part of Johnson’s Masters project at York University in Canada. Johnson directs, acts and co-wrote the film with Josh Boles.
It took him almost 2 years to make Operation Avalanche, which made its debut at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. At one point Johnson thought he’d become a professor and that is why he went to graduate school he told us.
Johnson and Owen Wilson are Harvard graduates. who are recruited as CIA agents. They are on a mission to uncover a Soviet mole in NASA and they suspect that it might be director Stanley Kubrick. Things take an interesting turn when they find out that America’s ambitious plans to land a man on the moon maybe in deep trouble. The duo come up with a brilliant plan of creating a fake documentary about American astronauts landing in the moon. This is where Johnson and Boles skillfully bring in all the different conspiracy theories about American astronauts landing on the moon. How they create this documentary makes for an intereting watch.
We spoke with Johnson about the making of Operation Avalanche and his penchant for conspiracy theory films. Why did he make the film? How did they shoot footage at NASA and Shepperton Studio, where Stanley Kubrick made his films? Is there a parallel between the way software developers work and the way he works as a filmmaker when it comes to legal precedents? He takes a lot of creative clues from software developers he points out. We talked to him about what is fair use of archival footage? What does he have to say about working with lawyers for your creative projects?
While he does not believe that the American landing on the moon is not fake, it did not preclude him from making a film about it. There do exist conspiracy theories around Apollo 11’s landing on the moon.
LISTEN: MATT JOHNSON ON MAKING OF OPERATION AVALANCHE:
While Johnson believes that the American landing on the moon is not fake, it did not preclude him from making a film about it. There do exist conspiracy theories around Apollo 11’s landing on the moon. It is the secret truths that draws him into conspiracy theories and to film like Oliver Stone’s JFK. He first saw Stone’s JFK as a teen and was instantly drawn to it. It looks like he has not lost an interest in them.
Title: OPERATION AVALANCHE
Running Time: 94 minutes
Status: Film Releases on Sept 23, 2016 in SF Bay area
Meet Rasika Kumar, who has learnt the fine art of balancing her twin interests in technology and dance. You could say Kumar combines the professional interests of her parents – her father is an engineer and her mother is a dancer. And growing up in Silicon Valley she was surrounded by cutting-edge technology and tech companies.
Kumar studied computer science at MIT and now works as an engineer at Google. Before discovering her love for science and math she discovered her love for dance. She was surrounded by music and dance and learnt to dance at the age of 4 years old since her mother Mythili Kumaris a dancer, choreographer and founder of Abhinaya Dance Company in San Jose. The route to studying computer science was less direct than learning to dance points out Kumar. She is a choreographer, lead dancer and Associate Director at Abhinaya Dance Company.
We sat down with Kumar to find out how she developed an interest in science and math and what was the role of her parents in helping her nuture her interests in science and arts. Did she have challenges learning math? Who helped with her math and science homework? Did she want to be a computer science engineer? How does she balance her interests in technology and dance? Tune in to find out the answers to these questions and more.
Mythili Kumar is the founder, choreographer and artistic director of Silicon Valley-based Abhinaya Dance Co. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the award-winning dance company that is recognized for teaching Indian classical dance & innovative dance dramas. Besides teaching dance, Kumar also teaches classical Indian dance forms at the University of California in Santa Cruz.
We sat down to speak with Kumar about how she got interested in dance and her journey from India to California and the founding of Abhinaya Dance Company. Kumar came to study nutrition science at the University of California, Davis in the late 1970s. She moved to Silicon Valley after her marriage and got involved with teaching dance at her school and at local universities like Stanford, San Jose State University and University of California, Santa Cruz.
LISTEN: MYTHILI KUMAR OF ABHINAYA DANCE COMPANY
Besides Kumar, her daughters Rasika Kumar and Malavika Kumar also teach at Abhinaya Dance Company.
Filmmaker Jason Cohen’s Silicon Cowboys traces the rise and fall of Compaq, the personal computer (PC) company. Compaq was the company that challenged IBM and changed the PC landscape in the 1980s.
Compaq was founded byRod Canion, Jim Harrisand Bill Murtoin Houston, TX. The founders were partially inspired by Silicon Valley’s culture. At one point Compaq was the fastest growing company in the tech industry. The company was eventually acquired by Hewlett-Packard (HP). In 2013 HP discontinued Compaq’s name.
We caught up with Cohen at the Computer History Museum, where Silicon Cowboys was partially filmed. We wanted to find about what drew him to make Silicon Cowboys? How was the idea born? How did Compaq change the PC landscape? And, how was Compaq’s culture different? Was he inspired by AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, a TV series that is loosely based on Compaq.
LISTEN: JASON COHEN ON SILICON COWBOYS
Cohen is a Berkeley-based filmmaker. His short film Facing Fear was nominated for an Oscar in 2014.
Silicon Cowboys releases in the San Francisco Bay area on Friday, September 16, 2016
Title: SILICON COWBOYS
Running Time: 109 minutes
Status: Releasing on September 16, 2016 in theatres and VOD
Tula Goenka teaches film production and multimedia storytelling at Syracuse University, NY. A few years ago Goenka started a first-of-its-kind Bollywood internship program for under graduate students. As part of the internship program students spent time in Bombay or Mumbai, the entertainment capital of India and home to Bollywood film industry. Some students went on to work for Bollywood films as Goenka explains.
Justin Tipping directed and co-wrote Kicks, a coming-of-age film set in the San Francisco Bay area. The film revolves around a young teenager Brandon (Jahking Guillory), who dreams of owning a trendy pair of sneakers or kicks. He owns an old and frayed pair of sneakers, while all his friends sport brand new, funky shoes. And through sheer luck Brando gets a new pair of sneakers. He barely gets to enjoy his brand new sneakers before he is attacked and the sneakers are stolen from him. Shock gives way to resolve and Brandon decides to fight and get his sneakers back.The rest of the film revolves around how Brandon plots to get the sneakers back and in the process undergoes a transformation.
Tipping set the story in Oakland, which is where he hung out growing up in the East Bay. He trains his lens on the twin sub-cultures of this region that we barely get to hear or see: sneaker culture and side show. The film is partly inspired by Vittoria Di Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and the notion of masculinity in American culture.
We met Tipping in San Francisco to talk to him about the making of Kicks, and growing up in the East Bay. The film has a touch of autobiographical element – it was inspired by an incident that happened to Tipping as a teenager and it involved a pair of kicks.
LISTEN: JUSTIN TIPPING ON KICKS
Kicks opens in San Francisco Bay area on September 9, 2016.
Meet Gene Guglielmo, a third generation winemaker from Santa Clara county, the oldest wine growing region in California. Guglielmo Winery is the oldest continuously family owned and operated winery in Santa Clara Valley.
We sat down with Guglielmo to find out the history of his family’s winery and taste a couple of Guglielmo wines. Guglielmo shares how his grandfather Emilio Guglielmo came from Piedmont in Italy to the San Francisco Bay area in the early 20th. After working in San Francisco his grandfather bought a vineyard in the Santa Clara Valley. His grandfather started making wine and slowly grew the business. After World War II George Washington Guglielmo (Emilio’s son and Gene’s father) joined the winery and expanded it by installing new machinery and steel tanks. Today, Guglielmo makes a mix of red and white wines.
This TV interview was aired in the US.
Guglielmo Winery is locaed at 1480 E Main Ave, Morgan Hill, CA 95037. The tasting room is open 10am to 5pm every day and there is a $5 tasting fee.