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: Kathleen Powell of Cinequest Film Festival in Silicon Valley

For 25 years Kathleen Powell and Halfdan Hussey, co-founders of Cinequest Film Festival have worked hard to bring this unique festival that combines films and technology under one roof in the heart of Silicon Valley. Besides well-known filmmakers and actors, the festival features emerging artists and filmmakers and shines a strong spotlight on the contributions of youth through their “Picture The Possibilities” program. And then there is the technology dimension to the festival, where new tech and digital tools for filmmakers are highlighted. For example, Apple’s Quicktime was first shown at Cinequest.

Powell is a computer scientist by training, who worked in Silicon Valley’s tech industry. We were intrigued. How did a math whizz studying computer science became involved with films, and keep it going? How did she juggle her work in the tech industry along with her work with the film festival? Continue reading