THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST
MIRA NAIR (Director) was born in India and educated at Delhi University and at Harvard. Her debut feature film, Salaam Bombay! (1988) was an international critical acclaim, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988. It won the Camera D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a BAFTA Award. Her next film, Mississippi Masala (1991), was presented at the Venice Film Festival. Subsequent films include The Perez Family (1995), about an exiled Cuban family in Miami, and Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, a story set in India during the 16th century, about two girls who were raised together though they came from different social classes. Nair directed in 1998 My Own Country based on Dr. Abraham Verghese's best-selling memoir about a young immigrant doctor dealing with the AIDS epidemic. In the summer of 2000, Nair shot Monsoon Wedding, winner of the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Film Festival. Monsoon
Wedding also won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Nair's next feature was an HBO original film, Hysterical Blindness (2002). The film received great critical acclaim and the highest ratings for HBO, garnering a Golden Globe for Uma Thurman and two Emmy Awards for Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara. In May 2003, Nair helmed the Focus Features production of the Thackeray classic, Vanity Fair, in which Reese Witherspoon plays the lead, Becky Sharp. The film was premiered at the 61st Venice Film Festival. In 2005 Nair directed The Namesake, based upon the novel of the same name by Jhumpa Lahiri. Following the tragic events of September 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. In 2007 she produced with her company, the New York based Mirabai Films, AIDS JaaGo, a collection of four short films about the AIDS epidemic in India. In 2008 she directed How Can It Be?, an episode from the movie 8, a series of eight short films centered on the eight Millennium Development Goals. In 2009 Nair directed a short film, starring Natalie Portman and Irrfan Khan, that was included in an anthology film, New York, I Love You. In 2009 she also directed Amelia, a biographical film of the life of Amelia Earhart, starring two-times Academy Award winner Hilary Swank. Ever sensitive to social issues, Mira Nair shares her energies among filmmaking and the two non-profit organizations she founded. In 1988 with the proceeds from the film Salaam Bombay! she established the Non-profit organization Salaam Baalak Trust, which has had a direct impact on the government policy concerning street children in India. Twenty years after, Salaam Baalak Trust is running twenty-five care shelters that offer a safe and welcoming environment to 5000 street children every year. In 2005, Nair founded Maisha, a centre in the East Africa providing film labs and workshops for aspiring screenwriters, directors, actors, technicians, and documentary makers coming from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda.
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