When opportunity comes knocking at her door, Hema, a fickle Indian immigrant mother in 1990s New York City, sets out to transform overnight into a glamorous career woman. But her preteen daughter, Anika, has other plans for her. Yearning for tenderness, Anika looks to confounding American television programs to help her understand her mother’s detachment – a “curse” the girl is determined to reverse.

With her astute and humanistic lens, IFFLA alumna Swetha Regunathan (Forever Tonight, 2021) dissects an engrossing mother-daughter relationship colored by cultural displacement and elusive American dreams, in a film that speaks powerfully about our primal need for safe connection and the complex forces that teach us how to love. This MFA thesis film from New York University premiered at the 2024 Aspen ShortsFest where it won a Special Mention Award.

Swetha Regunathan

Swetha Regunathan’s short films include Before It Breaks, Forever Tonight, and Hasim October. She has received accolades from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the South Asian Film Festival of America, among others, and was a finalist for the Showtime Tony Cox Screenplay Contest. Regunathan produced Between Earth & Sky, which was shortlisted for a 2024 Academy Award, and If There Is Light, which premiered at the Tribeca Festival. She has also directed music videos for artist Sunny Jain, and branded video campaigns for brands like Vox and NPR. She has two feature films in development (Burnout and Sundarbans).

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Shorts Program 1

Los Angeles Premiere

Swetha Regunathan

Khaula Malik, Raj Trivedi

Swetha Regunathan

Lorena Durán

Swetha Regunathan

Cyrus Yoshi Tabar

Devika Bhise, Samsara Leela Yett, Rebecca Hazlewood, Samrat Chakrabarti, Ajay Naidu