Swetha Regunathan – 2019 Shorts Winner
An Indian-American girl wrestles with her otherness at a pre-prom gathering.
Swetha Regunathan is a writer and filmmaker based in New York. She wandered through book and magazine publishing before becoming a scholar of 18th-century literature (and for this, she holds a Ph.D. in English). She eventually landed in her happy place, making films by day and consuming animal videos by night. Swetha is currently an MFA candidate at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, in the Graduate Film program. She is still coming to grips with her over-education, not to mention her outstanding college loan debt.
Swetha Regunathan was a 2016 Sundance New Voices Lab finalist for THE ACADEMY, a satirical series she co-developed about life in graduate school. Her short film, HASIM OCTOBER, about a teenage girl caught between a crush and an anthrax prank in the weeks following 9/11, was shortlisted for a 2017 Lexus Short Films Award. Most recently Swetha produced a short documentary, IF THERE IS LIGHT, about a houseless fourteen-year-old girl in New York, who just wants her family to be under the same roof. The film premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and is available for streaming on Hulu.
Some of her other writing has appeared in Guernica, n+1, and Words Without Borders. In 2009 she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for Best American Essay.
FOREVER TONIGHT follows an Indian-American girl who sneaks out of the house to attend a pre-prom gathering at the home of her crush. She quickly gets caught up in a whirlwind of emotions and winds up having a romantic encounter with him. But just when she starts to feel like a quintessential American girl, she’s reminded of her otherness during an uncomfortable photo-taking session.
My approach to filmmaking is informed by a lifelong love affair with coming-of-age stories and a belief in highly personal, subjective storytelling. Given my time in two worlds – that of the traditional Indian-American household, and that of the libertine American public sphere – I want to reshape, and make more inclusive, the very idea of “coming of age” and what it looks like in American storytelling.
I am currently in pre-production to turn the script into a short film. I am also developing two feature films about environmentalism and loss, through the immigrant experience.
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