76th Annual Venice International Film Festival Selects Shorts by Columbia Filmmakers

Zoe Contros Kearl
August 13, 2019

The 76th Venice International Film Festival, which is the oldest film festival in the world, selected two shorts by Columbia filmmakers this year. The films selected are Darling, directed and co-written by current student Saim Sadiq, co-written by current student Rodney Llaverias, co-produced by current student Jasmin Tenucci, and produced by alumna Mahak Jiwani '18, and Kingdom Come, directed and co-written by alumnus Sean Robert Dunn '17, and co-written by alumnus Shakti Bhagchandan '18. The Film Festival is organized by La Biennale di Venezia, and will take place at Venice Lido from August 28 to September 7, 2019. The aim of the Festival is to raise awareness and promote international cinema in all its forms as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue. Both Darling and Kingdom Come will be part of the Orizzonti Short Films Competition, which is an international competition dedicated to films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema.

Darling will be the first ever Pakistani film to screen at the Venice Film Festival. Darling is set in a dance theatre in Lahore and tells a tale of romance and coming-of-age. As a new show is introduced at the erotic dance theatre, a narrative unwinds in which a sacrificial goat goes missing, a dreamy trans girl desperately tries to become a star, and a naive young boy falls in love for the first time. Sadiq said of the screening, "We are beyond excited that Darling is going to have its World Premiere at the 76th Venice Film Festival."

Sadiq is a Pakistani filmmaker. His short film Nice Talking to You was an official selection at South by Southwest 2019, Palm Springs International Shortsfest 2019 and won Vimeo’s Best Director award at Columbia University Film Festival 2018. The film also made the BAFTA Shortlist for Best Student Film. A recipient of the Kodak Student Scholarship Gold Award, Sadiq is currently developing a pilot for MakeReady in Los Angeles and working on his first feature, Gulaab, which was selected for the Open Doors Hub at the 2018 Locarno Film Festival. He is currently pursuing his MFA at Columbia University. 

Llaverias is a New York City native filmmaker who places great value on stories and visual story-telling. He is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts and is currently pursuing his MFA at Columbia University. 

Tenucci is a writer and director, known for Tempero SecretoLook Out For Cows, and Descompasso. She is pursuing her MFA at Columbia University.

Jiwani has produced films in Chile, USA, Japan, and Pakistan. In 2017, she produced Premonition in Chile, which won the Cacho Pallero Award at Huesca International Film Festival and screened at Aspen ShortFest, SIFF and Palm Springs International ShortFest. Her film Horizon won the GiGadgets Technology Award and Darling was awarded the Katharina Otto-Bernstein Production Grant at Columbia University Film Festival. Jiwani received her MFA from Columbia University and works for Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions.

Dunn is a writer and director, who has produced films that have played at film festivals such as Locarno, Sundance, New Orleans and Chicago International Film Festivals, as well as many more. He is interested in telling stories with a universal reach and relevance, grounded in Scotland and the wider United Kingdom. He received his MFA in Screenwriting and Directing from Columbia University.

Bhagchandani is a filmmaker from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She is the first writer/director from the UAE to have work showcased at Sundance Film Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music Cinematek, BFI London Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, and others. She is an alum of the Sundance Screenwriters Intensive Lab, an alum of the National Academy of Sciences' documentary retreat, and a recipient of a Hollywood Foreign Press Association Fellowship. Alongside her work as a filmmaker, she is a professor of screenwriting and directing at Pratt Institute. Bhagchandani completed her BA in English Literature at King's College London and received her MFA in Film from Columbia University.