Godmother of Hollywood comes to rev up Indian Films

Michelle Satter
MUMBAI: If unofficial sobriquets could be turned official, Michelle Satter would be called the Godmother of creative cinema. After mentoring some of the greatest minds of cinema like Quentin Tarantino and Darren Aronofsky, she has now set her eyes on India.

After 31 years of existence and an extended presence in a lot of countries, Satter, the Founding Director of the Feature Film programme at the Sundance Institute, is in India for the first time.

But why this delay?

"We have finally found partners with whom we can associate for a long time. This is just the beginning of a process where we believe that if you support the next generation of artists, the world audiences would be enriched by that," Satter told IANS.

She helped Tarantino hone his creativity even before he made "Reservoir Dog" and Aronofsky before he earned accolades for his film "Pi".

She has partnered with Mumbai Mantra Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab 2012 to groom, nurture and guide eight scripts.

Michelle has always been enthralled by the vibrancy of Indian cinema and the many voices that exist here. She plans to make the Sundance association with India long term.

"We support our artists the year round as the lab only becomes the beginning of the relationship. In India, we hope to continue supporting these artists and their projects on an ongoing basis," she said.

She agrees that not all films tutored under the lab in India would be made.

"What is more important is that we will change the craft of the artists and we’d have helped them find their own individual voices. And if not this film, then the effect will be seen in the next. It’s an ongoing process," she said.

She is upbeat about Indian scripts. She is particularly enthused about Shonali Bose’s screenplay "Margarita. With a Straw".

"Shonali is bold and has great courage. ‘Margarita…’ is a beautiful screenplay, very moving and comes from a very personal space," she said.

Asked if she believes it has the potential to become the next "My Left Foot" in terms of scope, she says, "Yes, it could."

She says, "I love the creative process. It is extraordinary to be working with artists at a time when you can have the greatest impact on their stories, to engage with them in dialogues where voices have been strengthened and where there often has been confusion but where wonderful directors have emerged.

"At Sundance our job has been to support the vision of the artists and to help them connect with their audience."

But how does a writer in a remote corner of the world create cinema that touches the world? Michelle said, "I strongly feel that stories that are specifically set in time and place and in characters, with details that are authentic, such stories have universal appeal."