With the 25th Anniversary of the Dusty Film & Animation Festival in full swing (through May 13 at the SVA Theatre), SVA Close Up is continuing its series on successful alumni making names for themselves in the world of film, video and animation. For the sixth installment, the spotlight is on Shubhashish Bhutiani (BFA 2013 Film and Video), whose short film Kush has taken off since it premiered at last year’s Dusty Film & Animation Festival, where it received awards in the categories of Outstanding Film, Outstanding Achievement in Directing, and Outstanding Achievement in Editing. Over the past year, Kush has premiered at festivals throughout the U.S. and internationally, including the 2013 Venice Film Festival, where it won the Orizzonti Award for Best Short Film. Kush was also nominated for an Oscar this year. Recently, Kush won the top prize for drama and Bhutiani took first place for directing at the 35th College Television Awards. SVA Close Up caught up with Bhutiani via email recently to talk about his experiences in the wake of the film’s success.
This time last year you were getting ready to graduate and preparing for the Dustys. Reflecting on the past year, how do you feel about where you were then vs. now?
It has been a very memorable year for me. I’ve had the opportunity to show my film all over the world, travel with it, go to new countries, meet filmmakers and see some amazing work. I feel I’ve grown with these new experiences, but at the same time I can’t say it was better than the year before when we were actually making Kush. I think making the film taught me the most I’ve learned about filmmaking. But we’ve just taken our first steps into the “real world”— let’s see how it goes!
Kush has been screened at multiple festivals over the past year, including the prestigious Venice Film Festival, and it was also nominated for an Oscar. What has that been like and do you have any notable experiences you can share?
It’s hard to pinpoint one, but just to see how people react to the film all over the world has felt great. My meeting with one of my idols, Bernardo Bertolucci, stands out. He was so humble, and such a warm man.
How do you feel SVA prepared you to enter the world of filmmaking?
I think SVA has given me a good base of the skills necessary to make films. But most importantly, I’ve met talented people at SVA who I hope to keep working with in the future.
What’s next for you? Do you have any upcoming projects in the works?
I am writing a couple of projects right now and I’m currently working on an Indian movie, too.
What advice would you give to 2014 Dusty’s participants and aspiring filmmakers about to graduate from SVA?
I don’t think I’m in a position to give advice, but I would just say that we have to stick together and keep making things we care about. Hopefully, we’ll find our way.
Image: Shubhashish Bhutiani with actor Melissa Leo at last year’s Dustys.