Last month, I had the great joy of collaborating with Aditi Desai, AIF Clinton Fellow alumni ’05, on the making of her film project Entangled. Aditi wanted to create a documentary focusing on the International Kite festival in Ahmedabad. The kite festival, known as Uttarayan, is a national event; however it is perhaps most celebrated in Ahmedabad, where it is truly an international fair.
I came to first know Aditi through the AIF Clinton Fellows mentor program. AIF paired Aditi and I together as mentor/mentee because of our mutual interest in film and video production.
It was a great match.
Prior to my departure for Delhi, Aditi and I spoke over the phone about the many things to anticipate with the move to India: both personally and on the production front. We had great rapport. (Although this is difficult not to do with Aditi given her warmth and stunningly infectious laugh).
Throughout those conversations Aditi had a lot to share. Her interest in production is firmly rooted in her AIF Fellowship experience. During her fellowship, her host NGO asked her to produce videos documenting and promoting its programming. At the time, she had little experience in video production. But this challenge spurred her to eventually pursue a career in film. Today, she is currently pursuing her MFA in film at American University in Washington DC.
In autumn, Aditi asked me to come help out with the filming of Entangled in her home state of Gujarat. I was of course overjoyed and immediately accepted.
We filmed the kite festival in January. Aditi chose her subject well: it was a visual feast. The bright reds, yellows, ochres, violets and blue hues of the kites stood out against the dusty, dry Ahmed landscape. The joy on people’s faces, the profound glee of children’s smiles while freely flying the kites stood in sharp contrast to the darker sides of the festival: the injuries and environmental risks resulting from thousands of glass-laced strings cutting through the air for five days. Sliced necks, birds literally severed mid-flight and an immeasurable volume of litter cut down the otherwise weightless festival.
Aditi and her co-producer Kai did fantastic work in exposing this contrast.
The AIF mentor/mentee program has been a rich and rewarding experience. We have been very fortunate in our pairing. Aditi and I have formed a friendship I am confident will last well beyond the fellowship period.