It’s a film about love, anger, addic­tion, for­give­ness (or resent­ment) and empathy”

Premiere: Deepa Keshvala’s film Kara tackles the relationship between father and daughter, plagued by the hardships of a deadly disease.

Since com­plet­ing a degree at Uni­ver­si­ty of the Arts Lon­don, Deepa Kesh­vala has carved quite the rep­u­ta­tion for her­self. She’s an in-demand Direc­tor of Pho­tog­ra­phy, known for her bold, high­ly-researched work. She’s bag­ging cred­its for brands like Nike, Stel­la McCart­ney and Burber­ry and she’s worked with musi­cians such as Cha­ka Khan, Jor­ja Smith, Bur­na Boy and Flo­hio. In the film indus­try, there’s a lack of women of South Asian ori­gins. But here Kesh­vala is, carv­ing an almighty name for her­self. Big. Up.

So when we were offered the chance to pre­miere her lat­est film Kara, it was a no-brain­er. Why? Because the film is spec­tac­u­lar. A fol­low-up to her final uni­ver­si­ty project Canned, Kesh­vala says Kara is about a very com­pli­cat­ed father/​daughter rela­tion­ship. It’s about love, anger, addic­tion, for­give­ness (or resent­ment) and empa­thy – and then it’s mul­ti­plied with the Indi­an fac­tor, which makes every­thing more com­pli­cat­ed!” In South Asian cul­ture, there’s an age-old the­o­ry of men sup­press­ing their feelings.

There’s a pat­tern, in our com­mu­ni­ty any­way, of frus­trat­ed, depressed or mis­un­der­stood men wind­ing up as addicts,” Kesh­vala says. And I have a lot of empa­thy for them. I can real­ly see how they [end up] in that place.”

And both Canned and Kara deal with these notions head-on, by show­ing the sup­pressed emo­tions of a man liv­ing with a dead­ly dis­ease so inti­mate­ly. It places the view­er in the cen­tre of the room, along with the direc­tor, star­ing her estranged, alco­holic father in the eye and fir­ing ques­tions like what did you want to be when you were younger?’, or do you see your kids?’, while her father pours anoth­er can of Hol­sten Pils. 

But the films aren’t just for Kesh­vala. They were made with the inten­tion to res­onate with any­one deal­ing with alco­holism so close to home. It felt like the per­fect way to gain clo­sure, cathar­sis and res­onate with, hope­ful­ly, any­one watching.”

While her father sad­ly passed away in between the release of Canned and the mak­ing of Kara, the direc­tor is mov­ing for­ward with her mis­sion to con­nect with kids of alco­holic par­ents, part­ner­ing with The Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion for Chil­dren of Alco­holics, or NACOA. I dis­cov­ered NACOA so late, basi­cal­ly around the time we made Kara. We sent them Kara because I hoped that it could serve some pur­pose in real life.”

The film made its debut at Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val in 2017, but only now is the direc­tor releas­ing it to the wider pub­lic. While she won the Lon­don Call­ing Plus Best Film award, Kesh­vala realised it wouldn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly be seen by the peo­ple she want­ed it to touch the most, say­ing Short films fall into this world of fes­ti­vals, where most of the peo­ple that see them are almost exclu­sive­ly film­mak­ers and cinema-goers.”

Keshvala’s light­bulb moment was dur­ing the screen­ing of the film, say­ing when we saw the impact it had on grown men we knew it should have a life out­side of the indus­try, and what bet­ter place than an amaz­ing char­i­ty sup­port­ing chil­dren of addict­ed parents?”.

So take a moment, watch the film and put your­self in the posi­tion of a teenag­er deal­ing with not only the stress­es of grow­ing up but an alco­holic par­ent, too. Kesh­vala may have made her peace with the mak­ing of the film, but there are many kids out there who haven’t.

I real­ly think that sub­ject mat­ter can and should be pushed and played with in sub­lime ways,” Kesh­vala says of her hopes for the future of cin­e­ma. We will ele­vate peo­ple and sto­ries in ways we haven’t seen in the his­to­ry of film­mak­ing so far.”

Canned’ is avail­able to watch here

Kara will be screen­ing at Under­wire Fes­ti­val at Rich Mix this month

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