VIMANA is a film about three Indian astronauts who are a product of India's ambitious new deep-space program. Set in the near future, the astronauts are on a one-way trip to a distant planet, Gliese. Unfortunately, the ship's captain, Rishi, passes away after an adverse reaction to the hyper-sleep. Now it's up to the two remaining astronauts, Pankaj and Naaz, to come together and land the vessel in his memory.
To complicate things, India's mission control requires them to jettison the corpse in order to avoid bringing biological contaminates to the new planet. But Naaz, who has fallen in love with Rishi, refuses to let this happen. While Pankaj finds her actions weak and in direct compromise of the mission, Naaz must prove that strength comes from a place that is elevated far above scientific protocol—and is what makes us human in this great expanse called the cosmos.
A Statement from the Director
Thanks to my parents, I grew up watching movies straight from Bollywood. And while the melodrama, style, and color never failed to inspire and entertain, the number of films that broached deeper issues were limited.
I would love so much to see more films from India that look into the unknown depths of space, and the impact technology has on humans. I've been inspired by many films from the West that explore science - fact and fiction - with such great curiosity and sensitivity that they evoke wonder. With this project, I want to bridge these cinematic influences I had growing up, and create something that will feel new to audiences both here, and abroad.
Through this science fiction vehicle, I want to tell the story of personal struggle and loss in the void of space. How well does human empathy hold up in a demanding scientific endeavor?
The film is loosely based on the recent difficult loss of my father to terminal lung disease in 2009. I hope to reach the stars with this project and, fittingly, carry the memory of my father with me.
How Your Donations Will Help
Building our ship (from scratch!)
Your Contribution is Important!
In space, no donation is too small. We need your help to propel us across the cosmos! We appreciate each and every one of you taking an interest in our project. Please continue to spread the word. Thank you!
We would love to hear from you! You can reach us through our Facebook, Twitter, website, or email.
Faroukh Virani - Director
Growing up, Faroukh Virani's parents operated an Indian video rental store, and the style of Bombay cinema greatly influences his work.
He is currently pursuing an MFA in Film Production at USC's School of Cinematic Arts. After graduating from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 2004, Virani worked in post-production for ESPN Reality, PBS, and most recently, HBO Documentaries. He has served as an assistant editor and editor for feature documentaries and original reality programming, Additionally, the documentary short he edited, "Canto de Familia," was recently recognized by KCET as part of its Fine Cut showcase of student films.
Lindsey Villarreal - Producer
Lindsey Villarreal began her career traveling the country and worked as a caricature/portrait artist for eight years.
Villarreal produced the Subway webseries, “The Ultimates”, which has been featured on IFC, MyDamnChannel, Variety, and at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival. In 2011, Villarreal directed "Canto de Familia", a short documentary on the joys and struggles of a family of Mariachi players in East Los Angeles. The film has been played at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, Cine Festival en San Antonio, and has been screened on KCET Los Angeles.
Villarreal is a recipient of the Bud Greenspan Endowed Scholarship for Documentary, the Entertainment Partners Scholarship for Producing, and the Dr. Rodolfo Montes Memorial Scholarship.
Villarreal is currently pursuing her MFA in Film and Television Production at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, and interns in the producing department at the Award-winning television series, "Mad Men".
Natalie Mirsky - Producer
Natalie Mirsky attended Sarah Lawrence College and the London School of Economics before pursuing her MFA at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. She has interned for a US senator, worked in a surgery unit, and turned pages for an award-winning pianist.
Most recently, Mirsky is producing a documentary about community and mentorship in South Los Angeles. In addition, she has assistant directed several short films, as well as a PBS short for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
Mirsky is a recipient of the Harold C. Lloyd Foundation Scholarship.
Maria Dirolf - Production Designer
Maria Dirolf is a graduate student at the University of Southern California. She studies film production at the School of Cinematic Arts and hopes to pursue a career in production design upon graduation. Dirolf recently received "The Art of Film" Award at LACMA's Young Directors night for the Production Design in her film, "Paulie".
Alejandro Martinez - Cinematographer
Alejandro Martinez, M.B., Cinematographer, Annenberg Fellow, and Amateur Astronomer.
Martinez took home the best cinematography award for the film, "Made by Me", at the 2011 First Look Film Festival.
Rejh Lester Cabrera - Editor
Rejh Cabrera is a talented editor soon to graduate from USC's School of Cinematic Arts. He is pursuing a career in post-production, and most recently lent his sensitivity and story-telling talents to the student-produced Subway webseries, "Bite Night". Cabrera has also interned for Kirby Dick's feature documentary, "The Invisible War".
Tom Abrams - Faculty Advisor
Tom Abrams is an award-winning writer and director in both film and television. Abrams shared a 1992 Emmy Award for the children's television series, "Rugrats". His short film, "Shoeshine" (1987), was nominated for an Academy Award. For the last 15 years, Abrams has taught filmmaking internationally and consulted on projects in more than 20 countries.
Dr. Clifford V. Johnson - Science Advisor
Clifford V. Johnson is a professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, at the University of Southern California. He received the National Science Foundation's Career Award in 1997, and in 2005 was awarded the Institute of Physics' Maxwell Medal and Prize for his work on string theory and quantum gravity. He frequently appears on the Discovery, Science, National Geographic, and Comedy Central networks.
Michael Fink - Visual Effects Advisor
Michael Fink "cut his eye teeth" on films such as "Star Trek the Motion Picture" and "Bladerunner", before working on over 45 films, including "Batman Returns", "Braveheart", and "X-Men". In 2008, Fink received an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for the film "The Golden Compass".
Center for Asian American Media
The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. CAAM does this by funding, producing, and exhibiting works in film, television, and digital media. VIMANA is a proud finalist in the 2013 "Ready, Set, Pitch!" contest.
Thank you so much!
Risks and challenges
Taking on a science fiction film presents challenges, but we are confident we can meet them head on with our talented crew and supportive consultants! To name a few of our hurdles:
- Building an authentic spaceship set in which we can stage our entire film will require planning, adequate materials, and a construction crew large enough to pull it all together.
- Our film will feature computer generated images of the planet, Gliese 581g, and our heroes' ship approaching, as well as visual effects on board the spaceship. Getting these visuals right and making them believable is going to take a team of animators and excellent time management.
- Getting all of these production challenges to work together for the story is always the toughest part. VIMANA is a story near and dear to the director's heart. We know it's about the characters and we intend to not lose sight of that.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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