100 Creatives 2012: Sutapa Ghosh, Film Producer and Indian Film Festival of Houston Organizer
Film producer Sutapa Ghosh wants to be clear - not all Indian films are done in the Bollywood style. "We love Bollywood, but we're beyond Bollywood," she tells us. "The new generation has evolved into something new now. There was a stagnation for a long time, where we were doing the same thing over and over. Now, the younger generation is doing something different. We have documentaries, short films, off-beat independent films. We're doing so much more than we were even just ten years ago."
Ghosh is the organizer of the Indian Film Festival of Houston, which is now in its fourth outing. This year's fest has more than a dozen films showing over five days. Among the festival's offerings is Durba Sahay's An Unknown Guest, about an elderly woman who, neglected by her family, uses the newspaper obituary columns as a guide to local shraddh, or remembrance ceremonies, where, as an anonymous guest, she can enjoy a large, delicious meal. Ghosh says that, like all of the films at this year's festival, An Unknown Guest has a positive message. "That's been a constant for our festival, positive messages. Even if a person is going through a crisis, at the end you see a positive moment, a solution. I think that's what people need, solutions. We're tired of not having solutions in our lives."
What She Does: While Ghosh spends much of the year organizing the IFFH, she considers her work as a producer her main occupation. "I'm a moviemaker," the Calcutta-born Ghosh tells us. "I have always like challenges. I was working for a big corporation. I had a big salary and a happy life; I had nothing to worry about. But I took the challenge and produced my first movie with my own money. Everybody's life can not always be about driving good cars, wearing good clothes, owning property and then dying one day. I believe people have to give back to the community, to the human race, so that the world can be a better place."
Ghosh's first film was Utsab (The Festival) in 2000. That was followed by Titli (The First Monsoon Day) in 2002. She is planning on another production soon, though she hasn't settled on a project. "I've been nurturing some story ideas."
Why She Likes It: "Because I'm crazy," she laughs. "Actually, creativity is in our blood. The part of India where I come from, it's known for being a creative hub. Like Paris is known for fashion, the east coast of India is known for being creative.
"But more than anything it's the satisfaction. You work for 32 hours, 48 hours without sleeping sometimes, but at the end of the day, you're satisfied that you're doing what you love and that, hopefully, you're doing it well."
What Inspires Her: "The challenge certainly motivates me. I am Hindu and in my religion it's more than just doing for yourself, or your own family. It's about working to make the world a better place and that constantly inspires me. The happiness that I give to people with my films, or through the film festival, that is very inspiring."
Asked where she gets her ideas, Ghosh says, "I am constantly reading, constantly researching, constantly communicating with my fellow filmmakers. Staying in touch with other filmmakers keeps me thinking, keeps me moving ahead." Not that she needs much help in the motivation department. "People say that I'm not ever in one place. I can be staring at you, but at the same time, I'm in ten different other places, traveling 100 miles an hour. I am always thinking, now what? What's next?"
If Not This, Then What: "Nothing," she says flatly. "I believe what you are good at, you should do that. You waste your time doing anything else. I did my education and I was very successful in my field. But the day that I decided that I wanted to do this, to make movies and organize the festival, that day I decided I didn't want to do anything else. For me there's no one, two, three choices; it's only one choice."
If Not Here, Then Where: Like her choice of professions, Ghosh's choice of location is firm. " Nowhere. I don't want to live anywhere else. I love Houston. I was born in Calcutta and then I spent a lot of time in Rhode Island and I've traveled the world many times, but today, this is the best place to live. Not only because my family is here, no, no, no. It's because financially, medically, culturally, this is the place to be. I can go anywhere in the world, but after a week or two weeks, I get bored. I have to come back to Houston. I'm a very proud Houstonian."
What's Next: I'm planning on making another movie. It's about time. Also, I want to do something for Houston. I've been trying for so many years to convince all my buddies to come to Houston to make their movies here. We have great incentives here. Rick Ferguson, from the film commission, is a good friend. We're constantly talking about what we can do for local cinema. It's not enough to have an audience. You have to have the writers, directors, actors here, too. I want to help build that."
The 4th Annual Indian Film Festival of Houston runs daily from October 3 to 7. Studio Movie Grill CityCentre, 805 Town and Country Lane. For information, visit the festival's website. $10 to $15 per screening.
More Creatives for 2012
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Tom Stell, actor, writer, director
Gregory Oaks, teacher and Poison Pen co-founder
Oliver Halkowich, dancer and performer
Lupe Mendez, poet and poem pusher
Jason Nodler, artistic director, playwright, director
Ana Treviño-Godfrey, musician
Matthew Detrick, classical musician
Travis Ammons, filmmaker
Florence Garvey, actress
Julia Gabriel, artist, designer and backpack maker
Rebecca French, choreographer and FrenetiCore co-founder
Kiki Neumann, found object folk artist
Flynn Prejean, Poster Artist
JoDee Engle, dancer
David Rainey, actor, artistic director and teacher
Geoff Hippenstiel, painter, art instructor
Jessica Janes, actress and musician
Dennis Draper, actor and director
Mat Johnson, novelist and tweeter
Orna Feinstein, printmaker and installation artist
Adriana Soto, jewelry designer
Domokos Benczédi, Noise and Collage Artist
Robert Boswell, Book Author, UH Prof
Patrick Turk, visual artist
Elizabeth Keel, playwright
Bob Martin, designer
Mary Lampe, short film promoter and developer
Nisha Gosar, Indian classical dancer
Jeremy Wells, painter
George Brock, theater teacher
Radu Runcanu, painter
Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media
Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker
Philip Hayes, actor
Patrick Palmer, painter
Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer
John Tyson, actor
Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker
Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer
Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music
Laura Burlton, photographer
David Peck, fashion designer
Rebecca Udden, theater director
Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer
Paul Fredric, author
John Sparagana, photographer
Damon Smith, musician and visual artist
Geoff Winningham, photographer
Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist
Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor
Katya Horner, photographer
Johnathan Felton, artist
Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer
Carol Simmons, hair stylist
Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet
Greg Carter, director
Kenn McLaughlin, theater director
Justin Whitney, musician
Antone Pham, tattoo artist
Susie Silbert, crafts
Lauralee Capelo, hair designer
Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer
Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ
ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer
Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director
J.J. Johnston, theater director
Mary Margaret Hansen, artist
Richard Tallent, photographer
Viswa Subbaraman, opera director
Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist
Sonja Roesch, gallery owner
Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor
Sandy Ewen, musician
Camella Clements, puppeteer
Wade Wilson, gallery owner
Magid Salmi, photographer
Carl Williams, playwright