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IU Cinema to celebrate filmmaker Mira Nair with film series



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Mira Nair speaks March 11 at the Jacksonville Public Library. Nair will give a free lecture Thursday at the IU Cinema. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Mira Nair is not only one of India's most important filmmakers, but one of the most important global filmmakers, John Vickers, director of the IU Cinema, said.

The new IU Cinema film series, entitled Mira Nair: Living Between Worlds, will focus on Nair's filmography.

The series kicked off Thursday evening with a screening of Nair’s film, “The Namesake,” and will continue with a lecture by Nair herself 7 p.m. this Thursday at the cinema.

“She handles stories of diaspora as well or better than anyone,” he said. “She handles these stories of change of place, and then trying to fit into a new society or culture.” 

The series will also feature other films by Nair later in the week, including, “Queen of Katwe,” “Mississippi Masala,” “Monsoon Wedding” and “Salaam Bombay!”.

Tickets to Nair’s lecture this Thursday are free. Tickets to the film screenings are $4, and the screenings will take place April 5, 12, 13 and 15. A schedule of events can be viewed here.

IU Professor Susan Seizer said she’s seen and adores all of the films as part of the series.

She said each is rewarding and has a lot to offer audiences.

“All of her films have this very realistic quality,” Seizer said. “She really captures life in India, or wherever she’s filming.”

She said many of Nair’s films span multiple locations and deal with cross-cultural ideas.

“I just love that her films really teach the audience, not in a pedantic way, but in a very colorful, lived way, what it is to have the experience of being between two worlds,” she said. “They’re such beautiful vehicles for conveying those life experiences.”

Vickers said the subject matter of Nair’s films include universal life experiences, which make the films accessible and relatable to audiences of all sorts.

“Anyone that has moved from their bubble to a new environment and has to try to fit into that new environment and then grow themselves, I think can relate to these films,” he said.

Seizer said she admires the range of topics Nair’s films tackle.

“Salaam Bombay!,” Nair’s first feature-length fictional film, deals with heavy and important topics, she said.

“It’s a very sensitive, moving story about the plight of sex workers in India,” Seizer said.

The film was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.

She said another of Nair’s films, “Monsoon Wedding,” handles topics relevant to the #MeToo movement. 

“It’s sort of appropriate for the Me Too moment,” she said, noting that one of its subplots deals with abusive relationships. “It’s a really timely film for now.”

She said viewers should come see the films because they portray diverse life experiences so well.

“They really allow viewers to feel the experience of India, and of how humorous, and how particular, and how difficult it can be to be an immigrant,” she said. “They really convey the immigrant experience and a love of India.” 

Vickers said audience members at last Thursday’s screening of “The Namesake” were touched and moved to tears by the film.

“She creates these roller-coaster rides of emotions in her films,” he said. “She wants everyone to take something away from her works.”

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