At a time when the world seems overloaded with mindless, featherweight films filled with stereotypical female characters, documentary and experimental filmmaker Sonali Gulati offers something substantially different. Her passion for activism fuses art and politics into works that advocate social change.
Gulati is also an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, a grass-roots activist, and a feminist, but it is her films that spread messages to the broadest audience. Her short subjects and feature films have screened at hundreds of film festivals worldwide and some have been shown on television.
Gulati has said she is “most interested in making films that create a stronger presence for diverse, underrepresented, and silenced voices.” Her films bear out this intention. Nalini by Day, Nancy by Night, for example, revealed the double life required of “invisible” telemarketers in India. And her 2011 feature, I Am, is a documentary in which Gulati interview parents of gay and lesbian people in her native India, a land where homosexuality was only recently decriminalized.
Her award-winning films have substance and purpose as well as style, and they often explore the overlap between categories such as race, class, gender, and sexuality. Gulati also crosses boundaries by mixing personal and political, live action and animation, and fiction and documentary styles. The goal, she has said, is “not only to find innovative ways of storytelling, but also to create films as organizing tools, in the hope of making this a safe, sustainable, and just world.”