Kavery Kaul, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and adjunct professor in The City College of New York’s media and communication arts department, has been awarded a 2012-2013 Fulbright Fellowship for research abroad.
Ms. Kaul, who was born in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and moved to the United States at age five, will return to her city of birth in January 2013 as a Fulbright Fellow to research, write and begin production of her latest project, “Streetcar to Kolkata.”
“Streetcar to Kolkata” is a documentary that follows the African-American writer Fatima Shaik as she retraces her Indian grandfather’s 19th century journey from a small village near Kolkata to New Orleans. A Bengali Muslim and one of the first East Indian immigrants in America when he landed in 1893, he married into an African-American Christian family from which Ms. Shaik is descended.
“Fatima’s reverse journey makes this a compelling and timely story of two cultures, two religions and two cities worlds apart,” said Ms. Kaul, who will spend five months in Kolkata.
The Manhattan resident, who has taught film at CCNY since 2007, is grateful for the Fulbright Fellowship and the opportunity it’s given her to practice her craft in her homeland. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement to conduct work in over 155 countries worldwide.
“It is such a privilege to be able to spend a length of time there, developing the project from the ground up. It’s what a filmmaker dreams of,” she said, adding: “I’m thrilled and honored. It’s an amazing award that supports creativity as well as international understanding and that’s more relevant now than ever before.”
While in India, Ms. Kaul will be affiliated with the Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute. Named after the famous Indian director , the institute is a national center that produces film and television professionals, whose creative and innovative work contributes to the growth and development of cinema in India.
Scheduled for release in 2014, “Streetcar to Kolkata” is Ms. Kaul’s seventh production in a career that to date has seen her receive two National Endowment for the Arts awards, multiple New York State Council on the Arts grants and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Film.
Notable among her previous films is “First Look,” winner of the Best Cultural Film Award at the Festival of New Latin American Cinema. It was narrated by Harry Belafonte and was filmed in Cuba and the United States.
Ms. Kaul holds a BA degree in English literature from Harvard University. Upon graduation, she decided to purse filmmaking, a passion kindled as a child after watching the African classic “Sambizanga,” about the Angolan liberation struggle.
About the Fulbright Scholar Program
Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the program’s purpose is to build mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. Fulbright Scholars are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement and demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
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