I have worked on and feel drawn to such issues. This was a chance to show there is no reason to live with cleft as it is easily curable.
What were the difficulties you faced?
The language barrier between Pinki’s family and me was a challenge. Nandini Rajwadi, a talented Indian filmmaker, helped me a lot. The experience of shooting eclipsed all difficulties.
Your last documentary, Lost Boys of Sudan, was an untouched subject too. How do you keep uniqueness intact in your films?
I try to make films with an observational style where the camera is close to the subject. There are no interviews and no narrative.
Do you think Smile Pinki’s success at the Oscar was eclipsed by Slumdog Millionaire?
I don’t think so. In fact, there was a sense of community. The kids from Slumdog made great friends with Pinki.
This Oscar has shown a growing trend of foreign filmmakers basing their films on India.
If you want stories on humanity and social change, you are bound to get attracted to India’s unique and composite culture.
Your opinion on Indian documentaries?
There is a lot of talent in India. Though not documentaries, I admire Satyajit Ray’s films for their beautiful realism.
What can be done to make the reach of documentaries wider?
They must be screened for aesthetic appreciation, awareness, and before wide audiences. We are trying to screen Smile Pinki all over India.
How difficult is it for a woman to be a documentary filmmaker?
It is one field which is women-dominated.
Tell us about your forthcoming films.
My next film is on race relations in Brazil.
Your message to budding filmmakers.
Try and learn a lot from the filmmakers you really respect as persons.