Critically acclaimed Telugu film వనజ (Vanaja)
, directed by Indian filmmaker Rajnesh Domalpalli, has continued its winning streak by picking up two major Independent Spirit Award nominations.
One of this year's best reviewed foreign language films, Vanaja has been nominated for Best First Feature along with such high-profile entries as Julie Delpy's Two Days In Paris and Scott Frank's The Lookout.
It has also been nominated for Best Cinematography where director of photography Milton Kam faces fierce competition from Rodrigo Prieto of Lust, Caution and Janusz Kaminski of The Diving Bell and The Butterfly.
The Independent Spirit Awards ceremony, the premier event for the independent filmmakers, will take place on Feb 23, 2008, one day before the Academy Awards.
An official selection in 93 film festivals in at least 41 countries and a winner of 20 international film awards, Vanaja is set in rural south India, where social barriers are built stronger than fort walls. The film explores the chasm that divides classes, as a young girl struggles to come of age while pursuing her dreams of becoming a dancer.
Winner of the Jury Prize for Best First Feature at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, Vanaja has been hailed by major film critics across the US. The New York Times praised it as "an absolutely timeless film" while highly-regarded film critic Roger Ebert gave it four stars, saying "Vanaja is a beautiful and very special film."
Vanaja has played in all major US cities, including New York City (where it played 8 weeks), and in Los Angeles and San Francisco (where it played for a month). The film continues to draw crowds in other cities including Denver where it is now in its third week, and Pittsburgh where it is in its second week.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Anne McDonnell of Boston has been adjudged, the winner of an essay writing contest Why I Dream of Going To India organised by the filmmaker. The winner receives a free round-trip for two to India, along with a $1,000 cash prize. Nine semi-finalists were also picked and will each receive a $100 consolation prize.
Dedicating the essay and the dream trip to her mother, McDonnell wrote poignantly about "her desire that all children have of being able to give their parents even a fraction of what's been bestowed upon them through the years."
Courtesy: Hindustan Times