Shalini Kantayya: Filmmaking, Eco-Activism & Reality TV

Shalini Kantayya: Filmmaking, Eco-Activism & Reality TV

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Shalini finished in the top 10 out of 12,000 filmmakers on FOX's ON THE LOT, a reality show by Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett, in search of Hollywood's next great director. Her award-winning futuristic film, A DROP OF LIFE, points a dynamic visual eye on the mounting global water crisis.

Biography

Filmmaker, eco-activist, and reality television survivor Shalini Kantayya captured the attention of the nation during the television series ON THE LOT, a reality show created by Steven Spielberg in search of Hollywood's next great director. Out of over 12,000 filmmakers, Shalini was the only woman to finish in the top ten. Winning the acclaim of Hollywood's biggest name directors—including Gary Marshall, Michael Bay, and Brett Ratner—Shalini proved her superb visual style and unique subject matter.

Combining biting social commentary with a dash of commercial appeal, Shalini's films aim to make social change irresistible. Her production company, 7th Empire Media, is committed to using media to give a powerful voice to the unheard. A William D. Fulbright Scholar, Shalini's recent film, a Drop of Life, a futuristic sci-fi flick about the mounting global water crisis. The African Water Network has used a DROP of LIFE an organizing tool in over forty villages across Africa. The film has screened at festivals worldwide, winning the Best Short Film at Palm Beach International and Audience Choice Award at the IUOW Film competition. Shorts juror Conrad Bachmann commented, "Shalini Kantayya takes us on a journey of society's class system and the world of profit. In 17 minutes this film will change your life."

In addition to filmmaking, Shalini finds it crucial to engage youth culture through activism. She has given over 15 keynote speeches in the last year to colleges, universities, and conferences nationwide. She has spoken on a variety of topics related to media, ecology, and activism. Crafting each lecture and screening selection to the needs for her audience, some of her topics include:

Making Media, Making Change – From youtube to the silver screen, award winning filmmaker and eco-activist explores the impact media has on the world and the importance of media that inspires positive social transformation. The presentation includes short films created by the director and strategies on how to use media to create social change.

a DROP of LIFE: Inside the Mounting Global Water Crisis- Water is quickly becoming the oil of the 21st century and is heavily affected by climate crisis. This interactive presentation explores water as a human right and provides students with an “activist toolkit” to impact practice and policy.

Sureality TV – A rare insider’s reflection on reality TV from casting to competition, how production techniques create drama, and the impact of the reality phenomenon in society.

Shifting Focus - Using popular media, this interactive workshop explores industry constructions of gender, race, class, and sexual orientation in media. The workshop provides a brief history of the contributions of women directors in world cinema and depictions of women in film and television.

Recent speaking engagements include NY Women in Film & Television, Arizona State University, Discover India Festival, Bioneers National Conference, Earth Team Leadership Summit, Mount Holyoke College, San Francisco Waldorf High School, Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communications, Utne Reader’s Revolutionary Women, and the Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition.

With key partners and supporters such as Women Make Movies, Working Films, Water for All, and the Center for Corporate Accountability, Shalini is impacting the lives of citizens in affected communities and tapping the viral energy of youth culture to engage a new generation in a large-scale environmental movement.

Lyrics

FILMS

Written By: by Shalini Kantayya

A DROP OF LIFE
Set in the near future, A Drop of Life is the story of two women, a village teacher in rural India and an African American corporate executive, whose disparate lives intersect when they are both confronted with lack of access to clean drinking water.

DOCTOR-IN-LAW
Fed up with his father-in-law’s constant verbal abuse, a son-in-law finds the perfect opportunity for revenge in a doctor’s office.

CONNECT
Straddling East and West, ancient customs and cutting-edge technology, the documentary "Connect" is a compelling journey into the lives and minds of women pushing the boundaries of India’s high-tech revolution.

CHANGE THE GAME
Through a series of guerrilla media stunts at major television networks on Election Day 2002, Change the Game follows a group of youth activists as they struggle to seize the airwaves and express dissent towards the war on Iraq.


MANTHAN
Awarded Best Documentary at the Asian American Film Festival, "Manthan","The Churning,” explores ideas of faith and skepticism, immortality, inner peace, and religious tolerance within the landscape of the largest gathering of human beings on earth, the "Maha Kumbha Mela."

BOMBAY LONGING
A butch lesbian woman navigates sensuality and safety through public and private space in Bombay.

Watch Shalini's films and view her reel at: http://www.7thempiremedia.com/

Discography

Finalist, ON THE LOT, Primetime on FOX Television
William D. Fulbright Fellowship
Nomination, Reebok Human Rights Award
Senior Performing Arts Fellow, AIIS
Best Short Film, Palm Beach International
Best Documentary- Asian American Film Festival
Crystal Dior Award nominee, Tokyo Short Shorts
Audience Award, IUOW Film Competition
Finalist, The Doorpost Film Competition

Set List

a DROP of LIFE: Inside the Mounting Global Water Crisis: Explore the world wide water crisis in a gripping interactive presentation that explores water as a basic human right and provides students with an “activist toolkit” to make change in their own communities.

Making Media, Making Change: From YouTube to the silver screen, Shalini explores the impact and importance of media to inspire positive social transformation. Includes short films created by the director and strategies on how to use media to create social change on specific issues.

Shifting Focus: Using popular media, this interactive workshop explores industry constructions of gender, race, class, and sexual orientation in media. The workshop provides a history of the contributions of women directors in world cinema.

Re-Imagine-Asian: Reflecting on her experience as a first generation American born to South Indian parents, the director speaks about the influence of diaspora, immigration, and globalization in her