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WMWSC to Host Mira Nair
January 17, 2006

Award-winning director Mira Nair will speak in Grand Rapids on Thursday, February 23, 2006, at 7 pm in the Gezon Auditorium on the campus of Calvin College. An author reception will follow the presentation, which is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 6:30 pm and a sign-language interpreter will be provided.

Also, on the two evenings preceding the lecture, there will be a retrospective of Nair's work at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, in Grand Rapids, including "Salaam Bombay!" on Tuesday, February 21, at 7 pm, and "Hysterical Blindness" and "Laughing Club of India" on Wednesday, February 22, at 7 pm.

The film festival and the public lecture, titled "Between Two Worlds: An Evening With Mira Nair," are being sponsored by the West Michigan Women's Studies Council, which was formed in 2001 to inform the West Michigan community of gender issues, foster dialogue and give voice to feminist thought and ideas.

Since 2001 the Council, which consists of members from Aquinas, Calvin, Davenport, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley and Hope, has brought to West Michigan such thought-provoking speakers as Molly Ivins, Anita Hill and Margaret Atwood.

Helen Sterk, professor of communication arts and sciences at Calvin, and president of the West Michigan Women Studies Council, says Nair will be equally compelling.

"Mira Nair is one of the most accomplished women directors working today," she says, "and we are delighted to have her speak in Grand Rapids. Her work merges the best from the Western and Indian traditions of film making, and her unique vision has made her a role model for women interested in directing."

Nair perhaps is best known for Monsoon Wedding, a 2001 film that was winner of the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Film Festival and nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Salaam Bombay!, her debut, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988, and went on to win 27 international awards, including the Camera D’Or (for best first feature) and the Prix du Publique (for most popular entry) at the Cannes Film Festival.

Her 1991 film Mississippi Masala, an interracial love story starring Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury, garnered three awards at the Venice Film Festival including Best Screenplay and The Audience Choice Award.

Most recently, Nair completed a film adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's best seller The Namesake, about a family's move from Calcutta to Boston, and also worked on Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul for HBO, which focuses on a woman's journey to Taliban-governed Afghanistan in search of her mother.

Nair began her career as an actor, but soon turned to directing, producing and writing documentaries and feature films. She has directed and produced over 15 different projects, among which are award-winning documentaries such as So Far From India and India Cabaret, as well as HBO original Hysterical Blindness (2002), and Focus Features' Vanity Fair (2004).

Born in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, India in 1957, Nair began her studies in Sociology and Theater at the University of New Delhi. Seeking greater challenges, she eventually was admitted to Harvard on a full scholarship, and there she began to develop an interest in documentary film. Her very first film, Jama Masjid Street Journal, was her Master's thesis project.

Nair currently lives in New York City with her husband and son.