SUNNY BOY was the winner of BEST DIRECTION at the April 2021 LGBTQ+ Film Festival.
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I think there is still very few queer POC representations in the media and cinema. I had been wanting to work with the topics of new masculinities from an intersectional feminist perspective for quite a while. I knew Kumar, he was my friend, and I thought he would be perfect to explore the topics of sexuality, masculinity, race, faith, immigration, and above all, how all these identities overlap. I believe that in a time in which the far right is making its way to parliaments in the West, brown stories of sensitive gay men in which they are not only portrayed as gay but also as sons, as spiritual people, as immigrants, are important. The culture of yoga, especially in cities like London, is so whitewashed that claiming it back for Indian people was a must for us. I was lucky he was interested in this project and trusted me to do it.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?
It took quite a while, like a year and a half, because I had to first get all the audio content of the movie to then film his own reactions to it. I was on a low budget and had to do most of the work so that took time too.
3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?
Intimate and honest.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Being on such a low budget required a tremendous effort. From a narrative point of view, it was challenging to get the rhythm balanced to maintain the viewer’s attention throughout all the experiences he talks about while also giving space for reflection.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It was great to see all these lovely people spending time to generously talk about Sunny Boy. It is so rewarding to see that they related to it. This year everyone has felt very isolated with the pandemic. It has been very hard not being able to attend the festivals, with many moving online, meaning not having any contact with the audience. You create a film to tell a story and communicate with people, and that process got interrupted during this past year. Seeing the audience talking about the film was the closest to being back in a cinema as a social experience. It really moved me. We are very grateful to the festival for having done this.
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:
6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
I was working at Curzon Soho cinema in London at the time, where Kumar was also a member of staff. We became close friends and then I felt I wanted to make a documentary about him. His life experiences were very interesting to me and related to all the themes I usually work with like sexuality, race, gender, etc. The fact he was an actor and a close friend made it easier to reach the level of intimacy and honesty I was looking for. He is an amazing person, humble and brutally honest, and I thought his life stories needed to be heard.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
The Hours and Portrait Of A Lady On Fire.
8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?
I think it is a very easy and solid platform to use. It really makes it simple to submit films to festivals.
9. What is your favorite meal?
Tough question. Do I have to choose? I’ll be a Spanish cliché then and will go with Iberian ham (hoping I won’t offend a lot of people, sorry).
10. What is next for you? A new film?
Yes, I am now working on a new documentary project, this time feature length. It tells the story of oppression and persecution that LGBT+ people suffered during the Francoist dictatorship. At least five thousand people were imprisoned because of their sexual and gender identity in Spain. The film also brings into sharp focus the vulnerability and lack of social care that these LGTBQ elders currently live with. Their life stories and activism show their strength, not only to survive, but also to live with dignity.
We are now in the preproduction phase, hoping we can shoot the film next year.