Film Notes: Two Sides of the Desi Coin: “For Here or To Go?” And “Miss India America”

Miss India America

Miss India America

Two Indian-American films had their world premiere at Silicon Valley’s Cinequest Film Festival (Feb 24-Mar 8, 2015)  this weekend – “Miss India America,” and “For Here or To Go?” The films are made by Indian-American filmmakers from California. “Miss India America,” is set in Southern California, while “For Here or To Go?” is set in Silicon Valley and is about the techie community in the valley.

Both films got a standing ovation from the audience. It is apt that the films had their premiere at this festival since San Francisco bay area is home to over quarter million Indian-Americans. Interestingly, both films raised part of their funding through crowdsourcing platforms. “Miss India America,” used Kickstarter to crowdsource their fund, while  “For Here or To Go,” went the Indiegogo route.

For Here or To Go

For Here or To Go

The films show two sides of the desi coin. It is not often that  you get to see two different sides of the Indian-American community in the USA at a film festival. If “Miss India America,” spotlights the second generation Indian-Americans and how they assimilate and deal with their teenage angst then “For Here or To Go?” concentrates on the experience of new immigrants in America. The film shows the other side of the equation and what it takes to get that coveted green card, which puts you on a path to become an American citizen and owning that home with a white picket fence.  The path to realizing your American dream is fraught with all sorts of unexpected challenges is what the film hightlighs. Continue reading

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Video: Omi Vaidya on “For Here or To Go,” Films and Cinequest

Actor Omi Vaidya’s film “For Here or To Go?” will have its world premiere at Silicon Valley’s Cinequest Film Festival this evening. We caught up with the actor last night at Cinequest to talk about his new film, working in Bollywood and his future plans.

For Here or To Go?” captures the angst and uncertainties of young immigrant workers in America. The film is set in Silicon Valley and highlights the unsettling nature of  working on a H1B visa, also known as a work visa. Many of them put their ambitions  and lives on hold given the uncertain nature of their immigrant status. For example, you cannot do a startup when you are on a work visa. The film highlights the other side of the equation of what happens when someone is on H1B and what it takes for them to survive and fulfill their dreams. Not everybody who comes on a H1B visa gets a green card. The one constant refrain in any immigrant life is do they stay in America or go back to their country of origin. Continue reading

Silicon Valley’s Cinequest Film Festival Celebrates 25 Years

Cinequest 2015

Cinequest 2015

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Silicon Valley-based Cinquest film festival that celebrates films along with technology and innovation. This  year’s theme is “The Power of Creating,”and nearly 200 films from different parts of the world will screen at the festival.

The festival spotlights young filmmakers in multiple ways. There is the Picture The Possibilities (PPT) session that helps connect young filmmakers with scientists and technologists. And then there are two new competitions making their debut this year – High School and College film competition.

This year’s festival has an interesting line of guests like filmmaker Mike Medavoy head of Phoenix Pictures and prior that was head of TriStar, actress Rosario Dawson, film critic Anne Thompson, novelist and actor Mike Lehane and filmmaker John Boorman.

The opening night film is local filmmaker Dana Bachman’s documentary “Batkid.” This is a film about  5 year old Miles Scott and how he became the crime-fighting Batkid for a day in San Francisco in 2013. Scott was diagnosed with leukemia and Make-A-Wish Foundation worked on  making his dream come true to play a super hero for a day.

The closing night film is Victor Levin’s “9 to 5” on March 8, 2015.

India and Indian films must have been on the minds of the organizers and this year’s festival has 3 films.  They are “Miss India America,”  “Traces of Sandalwood” and “For Here or To Go,” which is by a local bay area filmmaker.

Cinequest runs from Feb 24 through March 8, 2015 in downtown San Jose. For tickets and other information please visit Cinequest’s website.

Photo credit: Cinequest