Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Principle Voices: Sean on his upcoming Fulbright scholarship

Our producer Sean Flynn received a Fulbright scholarship last month, which he will use to travel to India and produce a documentary about life in Dharavi, one of the biggest slums in Asia.

The reason that I chose to apply to the Indian program specifically is that, prior to joining Principle Pictures, I’d spent two months backpacking around India with a friend of mine. I was totally enchanted and mesmerized by the country. It was a life changing experience on a lot of levels - one of those things that really made me start opening my eyes to the world. Even though I had already been thinking about getting into documentary film before that, traveling through India really cemented that decision for me. I wanted to bring stories from other cultures and other parts of the world to American audiences.

Looking back on that two-month trip, I feel like I was just skimming the surface. I never got to dig deeper into the culture. For the Fulbright proposal, I decided to focus most of my energies on slum called Dharavi where the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was shot.

I’ve been interested for a number of years now in the phenomenon of urbanization in the 21st century and the fact that in the last few years we reached the tipping point where more than 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in cities. I’d like to explore how cities like Mumbai are taking shape and how opportunities are distributed within them. What motivates all these people to pick up their lives, leave the village they came from, and move into the city?

The purpose of the Fulbright is to provide funding for scholars and artists to research and teach abroad, building ties between different cultures on a global scale and breaking down stereotypes. So there’s a sense of responsibility that comes with it - of being a cultural ambassador for the United States.

That idea has definitely given me pause and made me reflect not only on how I can use this opportunity to pursue my own creative goals, but also how I can do something for the community there and hopefully give something back. I know this will be another life changing experience.

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