Accomplished filmmaker Mira Nair to speak at Fairfield University

Accomplished filmmaker Mira Nair to speak at Fairfield University

Mira Nair, who directed "Mississippi Masala," "Monsoon Wedding," "Salaam Bombay!" and other acclaimed films produced by her film company, Mirabai Films, will deliver "No Talk - Action" on Wednesday, April 5, at 8 p.m. at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, as part of Open VISIONS Forum, a program of University College at Fairfield University. Nair's appearance, the final Open VISIONS Forum of the 2005-06 season, is the fourth annual Ignatian Residential College Lecture funded by the Lilly Endowment.

Born in India and educated at Delhi and Harvard universities, Nair began her film career as an actor, later turning to directing award-winning documentaries, including "So Far From India" and "India Cabaret."

Nair's burgeoning storytelling talent was evident early, when her debut feature film "Salaam Bombay!" was nominated for a 1988 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It won the Camera D'Or for best first feature and the Prix du Publique for most popular entry at the Cannes Film Festival along with an astounding 25 other international awards.

Her next film, "Mississippi Masala," a tale of interracial love starring Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury, took three awards at the Venice Film Festival and Nair followed it with "The Perez Family," starring Marisa Tomei, Angelic Huston and Chazz Palminteri, and the sensuous "Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love," which she also co-wrote.

Though she's known for directing films that draw heavily on her Indian background, Nair has also considered the AIDs epidemic ("My Own Country"), exiled Cubans in Miami ("The Perez Family"), a literary classic ("Vanity Fair"), and single women looking for love (HBO's "Hysterical Blindness").

In the summer of 2000, Nair and her crew shot the audience favorite "Monsoon Wedding," the story of a Punjabi wedding starring Naseeruddin Shah and a large ensemble of Indian actors, in just 30 days. Winner of the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Film Festival, it was also a Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.

Following the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, Nair joined a group of 11 renowned filmmakers, each commissioned to direct a film that was 11 minutes, 9 seconds and one frame long. Nair's piece is a retelling of real events in the life of the Hamdani family of Queens, whose eldest son was missing after Sept. 11, and was then accused by the media of being a terrorist. "11.09.01" is the true story of a mother's search for a son who did not return home on a fateful day.

Nair's upcoming projects include Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake," Tony Kushner's "Homebody/Kabul" and plans to take "Monsoon Wedding" to Broadway. In addition, Mirabai Films is establishing an annual filmmaker's laboratory, Maisha, which will be dedicated to supporting visionary screenwriters and directors in East Africa and South Asia. The first was launched in August 2005 in Kampala, Uganda.

Nair's film company has a similar bent, encouraging the telling stories that are rarely heard. The director has said she is committed to creating films that question cultural barriers and depict worlds that are both true to their culture and universal in their appeal.

The Lilly Endowment, Inc. funded the establishment of the Ignatian Residential College, an academic program for selected Fairfield University sophomores. The students live together in Loyola Hall and are able to enroll in specially designed Ignatian College courses, attend special lectures and cultural events and participate in communal worship and mentoring programs.

Tickets are $28, $23.50 for senior citizens. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit

Posted On: 03-09-2006 10:03 AM

Volume: 38 Number: 190