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Mira Nair plans 'mentorship centre' in Kampala

By Frederick Noronha, IANS

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India born director, writer and much awarded filmmaker Mira Nair Tuesday announced plans to launch a programme for South Asian and East African filmmakers based in Kampala where she spends much of her time.

Called Maisha, or life, the venture should kick off in a year, said the filmmaker, whose production of William Thackeray's classic "Vanity Fair" starring Reese Witherspoon opened the 35th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in this coastal state Monday.

Speaking to reporters here, she gave details about Maisha: "It has just got funding. We plan to fly in eight young filmmakers for 12 weeks of mentorship. We have such a great theatre tradition in this region, and need to build filmmaking too."

Nair's announcement, a day after the festival inauguration, came in reply to a query on what she considered home.

"My home is where my family is. I have three pretty active homes. In New York City, in Kampala and here (in India)," she said.

"But if I had to choose any one country where I could live in, it would be right here. There's a great love of the Indian tradition."

Referring to her refusal to do a Harry Potter film, Nair said being asked was a great honour but she preferred films with "flesh and blood, emotion and human beings" rather than special effects.

"More than anything, it would have taken three years of my life," she said. "Work is where my heart takes me," she added.

Nair, educated in Delhi and Harvard, began as an actor and then turned to directing award-winning documentaries such as "Far from India" and "India Cabaret".

Her debut film "Salaam Bombay" was nominated for an Academy Award in 1988, and since then she has made a name - and won over two dozen international awards - for films as varied as the interracial love story "Mississippi Masala", "The Perez Family", the sensuous "Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love" and "My Own Country" which deals with AIDS.

Nair's other attention grabbing films include the rollicking and intense "Monsoon Wedding" and the HBO original film "Hysterical Blindness".


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