Ambarien Alqadar began her filmmaking journey as an assistant to director Sabiha Sumar on sets of Silent Waters. The film won The Golden Leopard at The Locarno Film Festival. Shaped by the experience of growing up in Jamia Nagar- a neighborhood on the margins of New Delhi, famous for its crushing lack of resources, police atrocities and delicious biryani, Ambarien works with a culturally specific lens.
‘Who Can Speak of Men?’- her first documentary, was acclaimed as ‘revolutionary in its portrayal of Indian Muslim women’, at The British Film Institute, London. Bird Woman- her work in progress screenplay was selected to The Athena Screenwriters Lab NYC and finalist at 1497- a features lab designed to elevate and develop screenplays by writers of South Asian descent while providing career support. It was also shortlisted at Sundance. She was a SAG Indie Finalist at The Stowe Story Labs where she worked with an international team of mentors and screenwriters as she prepares to direct the feature. Nisa, her second feature-length screenplay in early development stages was selected to The Writers Ink, India.
Her films- The Ghetto Girl & Four Women and a Room have won honors at Mumbai International Film Festival, International Film Festival of India, IDSFF Kerala, SIGNS Kerala, Karachi International Film Festival, Farocki Academy, Berlin and others. Ambarien is a graduate of Jamia Millia Islamia, India and Temple University U.S where she was a Fulbright-Nehru Fellow for her MFA.
Her narrative thesis short- Ayesha, featuring an ensemble cast of professionally trained Screen Actors Guild actors and non-actors cast through the process for 'documentary encounters' won The Temple University Graduate Thesis Award amongst others. Currently she is in post-production for Sultana's Dream; a speculative fiction short based on the writings of Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain; a Muslim feminist and educator from undivided Bengal (1908) and present day Bangladesh. Her recent non-fiction writings have been published in The Hijab: Islam, Women and The Politics of Clothing, Simon & Schuster, India and The Polis Project.
Ambarien lives between New Delhi and Chicago where she teaches Film Directing at The School of Cinematic Arts, DePaul University. She held teaching positions at The Anwar Jamal Kidwai Mass Communication Research Center, Jamia Millia Islamia, India and The School of Film & Animation, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, previously.
We shot this short over the course of a night at Rochester's favorite Jay's Diner. It is where I would sit and write when I moved to Rochester and did not know how to drive. I wrote this story based on a friend I made here. We shot this on ARRI D21 and we also did some handhold moves on that beast!
SHOOTING AMERICAN DREAM
Last summer shooting American Dream in New Delhi. It was 120F, almost. As a documentary filmmaker waiting and walking for your stories takes you to wonderful places.I used a simple shoulder brace to stabilize the Sony A7S3 and used a Sony mic for two days of shooting with Virender Rana's family in Delhi. I have been following Virender, a taxi driver in America close to a decade.
ON LOCATION IN NEW DELHI
Going to school changed my life. Here I share my journey, my stories and my skills with these brilliant women who are dreaming of the stars. As part of a broader initiative to highlight narratives of 'becoming' of Muslim women.
At my film school in New Delhi, I had heard so much about this festival that when I landed there, I wanted to cry. It is another story that I almost got killed by a very angry moose but somehow survived.
DELHI CRIME STORY PREMIER
The only reason I survived a moose attack in the heart of Park City, Utah was to attend the premier of Delhi Crime Story! I also pitched to Rasika Dugal and she was just spectacular in her performance. Yes, I do request celebrities for photo-ops.
SHOOTING IN THE LANES
Filming my mother at Shaheen Bagh. This was the night before I was leaving. My mother gets very emotional. We decided we will go out, have some coffee and then protest on the streets. It tuned out with me filming her for an upcoming film.