Alumni Directed 'St. Louis Superman' Picked up by Legendary Producer Sheila Nevins and MTV
BY Zoe Contros Kearl, August 22, 2019
Legendary producer Sheila Nevins and MTV picked up St. Louis Superman, a short documentary directed by two Columbia alumni, Sami Khan '09 and Smriti Mundhra '09. St. Louis Superman tells the tale of Bruce Franks Jr., a Ferguson activist and battle rapper who was elected to the overwhelmingly white and Republican Missouri House of Representatives, who must overcome both personal trauma and political obstacles to pass a critical bill for his community. The documentary first premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival New York in 2019.
“It is an incredible honor to be able to work with Sheila Nevins, the preeminent leader in the documentary space, and the team at MTV Documentary Films to bring Bruce Franks Jr.’s story to audiences across the United States,” directors Mundhra and Khan said.
“At the heart of American democracy, there is an injustice that gnaws at the soul of the have-nots and Davy Rothbart’s 17 Blocks and Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan’s St. Louis Superman are two films that expose both the injustices and courage of Americans who survive against almost insurmountable odds,” said Nevins.
Khan is a biracial Muslim filmmaker based in New York City. His work has screened at leading festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival and the Mumbai Film Festival. Khan is producer and co-director on The Last Out, a documentary that tells the harrowing tale of four Cuban baseball players and their dangerous journeys out of their homeland and into the United States. Khoya, Khan's feature debut as writer/director, was selected for the Tribeca Film Institute’s All Access fellowship and received financial backing from Spike Lee. The film tells the story of a man traveling to India to solve the decades-old mystery surrounding his adoption. He also worked on a short documentary for Al Jazeera English with Smriti Mundhra, titled St. Louis Superman. Khan is a previous adjunct lecturer at Columbia University and Brooklyn College. He received his MFA from Columbia University.
Mundhra is an award-winning filmmaker who has been working in the film and television industry for over fifteen years. Her documentary A Suitable Girl premiered in the documentary competition of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival to rave reviews and was awarded the Albert Maysles Best Documentary Director prize at the festival. Prior to A Suitable Girl, Mundhra produced Bomb the System, a 2004 Independent Spirit Award nominee for Best First Feature, and the SXSW Audience Award-winning feature film Waterborne. She has written, directed and produced work for BET, Al Jazeera English, and other organizations. Her work has been supported by the Tribeca Film Institute, Film Independent, Women In Film, ITVS, and from the International Documentary Association. Mundhra’s writing has appeared in Filmmaker Magazine, Latina, New York Daily News, Esquire, and Vogue India. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, screenwriter Christian Magalhães, and their daughter Isabel. Mundhra received her MFA from Columbia University.