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Mira Nair to Give 2010 Writer’s Voice Lecture Nov. 9

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    Filmmaker Mira Nair will give the 2010 Writer's Voice Lecture Nov. 9.

Indian-born filmmaker has brought several major literary works to film

Mira Nair, an Indian-born filmmaker who has brought several major literary works to film, will be the 2010 visiting author in the Writer’s Voice Series sponsored by the A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center at Southwestern University. Nair (pronounced “NIGH-ur”) will give a public lecture titled “An Evening with Mira Nair” at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9, in the Alma Thomas Theater.

Nair came to the United States at age 19 to attend Harvard University. There, she met screenwriter Sooni Taraporevala and gradually moved towards making documentary films.

Nair’s first feature film, “Salaam Bombay!” came out in 1988 and received more than 25 international awards, including an Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Film and two awards at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. She also directed the 2001 film “Monsoon Wedding,” which became one of the highest grossing foreign films of all time.

Other films that Nair has directed include “Mississippi Masala” with Denzel Washington (1991); “Vanity Fair” with Reese Witherspoon (2004), which was based on the book by  William Makepeace Thackeray; “The Namesake” with Kal Penn (2005), which was adapted from Jhumpa Lahiri’s bestselling novel; and the 2009 film “Amelia” starring Hilary Swank and Richard Gere.

In 2002, Nair directed “Hysterical Blindness” for HBO, which gave the channel its highest original film ratings ever, winning a Golden Globe Award and three Emmy Awards.

Her next film will be an adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s bestselling novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which will be filmed in New York, Pakistan and Chile in 2010.

“Mira Nair is a wonderful interpreter of major works for film,” said Lynne Brody, dean of Library Services.

Nair runs a New-York based production company, Mirabai Films, which has produced a variety of short films such as “AIDS Jaago,” a series of four short films designed to help de-stigmatize AIDS in India. The films have been seen by more than 2 million viewers worldwide. Nair’s own short film for the series, called “Migration,” deals with AIDS as the class leveler in society by following its transmission through interweaving stories linking rural and urban India.

In addition, Brody noted that Nair has been involved with a variety of social issues in developing nations, including poverty and the impact of AIDS. In 1988 she used the profits of “Salaam Bombay!” to create the Salaam Baalak Trust which has provided housing for homeless children in India. In 2005 Nair founded Maisha, a filmmakers’ training program based in East Africa. In its five years of operation, Maisha has trained hundreds of students from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania in screenwriting, directing, producing, acting, sound design, editing, and cinematography.

“Mira Nair is an ideal candidate for the Writer’s Voice because faculty can incorporate her work into a variety of classes,” Brody said.

Professor Alison Kafer’s Introduction to Feminist Studies class is organizing a mini film festival for campus the week before the lecture that will include a showing of Nair’s documentary titled “India Caberet.” The event will be held on Thursday, Nov. 4th, beginning at 6 p.m. in Olin 105. The film screening is free and open to the public.

Nair’s Nov. 9 lecture at Southwestern is free, but tickets are required. The general public may begin reserving tickets Oct. 4. Tickets may be reserved on the library website at www.southwestern.edu/library. 

Previous guests in the Writer’s Voice Series have included Tony Kushner, Joyce Carol Oates, Russell Banks, Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Carlos Fuentes, Robert Pinsky, Amy Tan, Azar Nafisi and Tobias Wolff.

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