Alumni Pilot Wins International Recognition

May 3, 2018

Diwal’Oween, written and directed by Alumna Shilpa Mankikar ’09 and produced by Alumna Biljana Ilic '11 is a show that tells the story of Neenu and Bobby, two kids who want to introduce their parents on the night when Diwali falls on Halloween. Everything goes wrong in this comedy of errors.


The pilot has been very well received, winning seven international festival awards.


The pilot won Best Family Series at the Baltimore New Media WebFest, and a 10-min excerpt screened at the Baltimore Creative Alliance's Historic Patterson Theater & Ideal Theater. At the Jersey City Popup Festival in New Jersey, it was presented with the Audience Award & Best Actor (Swann Gruen). Diwal'Oween also screened at the Garden State Film Festival at the Asbury Park Senior Center in New Jersey, and it received the indieFEST Award of Merit for Web Programming in San Diego.


The pilot also won several awards abroad, including at the Vancouver Web Fest, one of the most important festivals dedicated to digital content, and where Diwal’Oween was nominated for Best Pilot (over 30 minutes). It was also awarded - 2nd Place at the Web Series - New Delhi Short Film Awards hosted by Jaipur International Film Festival in India, and it was also a Nominee for Best Web Series at the Largo Awards in Switzerland. It screened at the Jodhpur International Film Festival and Rome Web Fest


According to the show's website, Shilpa Mankikar is an award-winning American filmmaker based in New York and India. Shilpa's work combines a commercial sensibility with provocative content. She was a director at the ABC-Disney Showcase in 2015. She has three feature films in the Finalist round at Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Her film script Ferguson Convenience Store was staged at Anna Deavere Smith's Mattering Arts Forum about Black Lives Matter. Her screenplay/teleplay Memoirs of a Rebellious Princess was showcased by the Writers Guild of America - Independent Feature Project - South Asian Film Collective. She has a background in Film Distribution, Business Development, and Marketing at Universal. In 2001, she was a Co-Founder of 3rd i, a distribution company for South Asian diaspora entertainment in the US. She is a graduate of the MFA Film program at Columbia in New York and Oberlin College.


Biljana Ilic is an NYC based multimedia producer with almost 20 years of experience working internationally. Many of her productions have garnered awards and recognition worldwide such as Love Hunter that had a world premiere as an official nomination of Warsaw Film Festival as well as selected for New York Times Critics’ Pick. In 2013 she was awarded with Outstanding Achievement in Production on NYC Tribeca VisionFest for her solo production of film Palace Living.


Biljana was born in Belgrade, Serbia where she earned a Law Degree from University of Belgrade and Master’s Degree in Arts and Cultural Management from Art Academy. While in Serbia she mostly worked in television, advertising, and theater. Her first theater show Life on a Desert Island ran for 12 years and was successfully transferred to NYC. In 2006, Biljana received a scholarship from Columbia University where she earned her MFA Degree in the Film Program. While studying she jumped on the production of Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish that received numerous awards and had a festival circuit on over 30 film festivals all over the world. Ever since she has continued to create and produce content for narrative films, commercials, TV shows, music videos, documentaries, live performances, theater, and other media projects. 


Diwal'Oween is an Official Selection of the Kids First! Film Festival, which screens at 50 venues around the United States, and you can watch the trailer below.