For our next Spotlight feature, we’re headed to the Great White North. It’s time to take a closer look at Toronto-based director and screenwriter, Deepa Mehta.
Mehta was born in Amritsar, India but moved to New Delhi as a young girl. After meeting documentarian Paul Saltzman while he was filming a movie in India, she married him and migrated to Canada in 1973. Her films are notable for taking a look at Indian characters struggling with cultural and religious tensions.
Her feature-film directorial debut came in 1991 with SAM & ME – a story about the relationship between a young Indian boy and an elderly Jewish man in Toronto. The film won Honourable Mention at the Cannes Film Festival for the Camera d’Or category.
Mehta went on to direct and write several other films including BOLLYWOOD/HOLLYWOOD (2002), which won a Genie Award for Best Original Screenplay. Although her Elements trilogy: FIRE (1996), EARTH (1998) and WATER (2005) received much controversy in India, they also received plenty of critical acclaim globally. In fact, EARTH was India’s official entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Similarly, WATER, a film that took a look at the lives of Indian widows in the 1940s, was Canada’s official entry to the same category. The film eventually went on to become nominated for an Academy Award in 2006.
Outside of directing and writing films, Mehta can be found doing many things. Having been inducted as a Member of the Order of Ontario as well as an Officer of the Order of Canada, she is one of the most prominent Indo-Canadians. In 1996, she started the independent film production company, Hamilton Mehta Productions, with her current husband, producer David Hamilton. The most recent film that they produced was MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN (2012), which was released during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.
Mehta continues to create inspiring and thought-provoking films. Her latest endeavour BEEBA BOYS is currently in post-production. We all await this and all of her other great films! Speaking of inspiring films, The European Independent Film Festival is fast approaching. We have officially closed submissions and are reviewing all of these great films. So, be sure to mark your calendars for April 10-12!