One of the standout films in this year's Fine Cut series is "Homecoming," directed by Chapman University Dodge College of Film's Gursimran Sandhu. Admittedly, it's one of my personal favorites.
Gursimran's film is a haunting story, set in a modern day American suburb, about Indian parents intent on upholding deep-rooted values while their high school daughter struggles with respecting her upbringing while trying to like the rest of her schoolmates. I'm hesitant to say much more about the plot; only that "Homecoming" twists and turns in unsettling ways.
Rarely has a college filmmaker demonstrated such confidence. In "Homecoming," Gursimran has created an unforgettable story and assembled actors who bring the story to life. Jasmine Jade portrays Nina Patel, an innocent teenager whose life is forever changed when she is selected to be part of her school homecoming court. Her parents, played by Ravi Kapoor and Meera Simhan, are convincing as the complicated couple. At the Fine Cut preview event, the audience squirmed with unease during the final
scenes when the facade of tradition crumbles and all hell breaks loose. The final moments are stunning and the cinematography exquisite.
When the screening event concluded, this year's winning Fine Cut filmmakers and many of their cast members assembled in the lobby of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for a reception. Fine Cut funder Jack Larson spent time with the filmmaker, Gursimran Sandhu, and her cinematographer, Michael Candelori. Gursimran, who was born and raised in the Pasadena/La Canada area, introduced Jack to Ravi Kapoor and Meera Simhan, who play husband and wife in "Homecoming." Turning to Ravi, Jack asked how he could play such a hard-nosed brutal character. "You are so brutal on the screen," he said. Ravi laughed. "It's the only time I've gotten to play the upper hand," he said, "because in real life, Meera rules the household. We're a married couple in real life and sometimes get to play one on screen too."
The even bigger surprise came a moment later when I asked Gursimran about the plotline. I found the story incredible, I explained, and wanted to know what inspired it. "It's what happened in my life," she said. "All of it."