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SBIFF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and education organization dedicated to making a positive impact utilizing the power of film. SBIFF is a year-round organization that is best known for its main film festival that takes place each year in February. Over the past 30 years the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 90,000 attendees and offering 11days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums. We bring the best of independent and international cinema to Santa Barbara, and we continue to expand our year-round operation to include a wide range of educational programming, fulfilling our mission to engage, enrich and inspire our community through film.

In June 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. The theatre is SBIFF’s new home and is the catalyst for our program expansion. This marks the first time that Santa Barbara has had a 24/7 community center focused on the art of film and is an incredible opportunity to expand our mission of educational outreach. Particularly important to SBIFF is making available high quality learning opportunities for underserved and vulnerable populations. Our programs and reach are more robust than ever before.


Interview - Ashish Pant for THE KNOT - Santa Barbara



Santa Barbara Film Festival 2021


With Director: Ashish Pant


Interview by Emmanuel Itier

Q: Tell me how this film came together for you?


Ashish: It is based on an event that really happened to me when I was a kid in India, in the city of ‘Lucknow’ in the North. I was 7 and my dad was driving us for lunch to my grand-mother’s place. As we were at a light and had the way to pass, a scooter came from the left and collided with our car. Within seconds our car was surrounded by people banging all over our car. And you can imagine how terrified I was. My dad was courageous enough to step out of the car and figure it out. This incident was marked in my brain forever. On top of this, because of this incident, there was tension in the family for several years. So, this was a point of departure for me to imagine the story of ‘The Knot’. Years later I started to work on a script when I was doing some film studies and this is how it moved forward.



Q: What type of challenges did you face to make this film?


Ashish: This is always hard to make a small independent movie, especially when it’s your first feature and filmed in India. The budget was very limited but we got a big support from the Indian government. This opened doors and it helped me get the supportive team I needed to make it happen. Two men were of great influence to make sure I could deliver, my two main producers Kartikeya Narayan Singh and an American, Christopher Zalla. Also, finding the right house which is critical in the film was a challenge. It was important to understand why the protagonist wants to get out of this place. It took us over a year, going door to door, to find this perfect house and film the movie in ‘Lucknow’. It was especially tricky to convince anyone as they had to live their home for 20 days while we were going to film there! Again, I was fortunate to have an amazing team on my side to make the impossible become possible.




Q: What is the movie about, truly, for you?


Ashish: I have been living in the USA for a while now. So, I wanted to show a view of India and about our culture that is as objective as possible. In this movie I’m trying to understand why people are so dis-trustful of each other. The car is like a mechanic bubble that allows us to float through society. But if someone collides with your car this is when you have to face the others and find out what they are made of. It was interesting for me to study such a divided country like India about caste and class systems. How do you end up negotiating life on a daily basis between everyone. How do you survive this anxiety, this “knot”, which is the title of our film. How do you survive this challenging environment. What I found out if that, in general, people are building bigger barriers between them. Taller walls and gates and they are always distancing themselves as much as they can from each other. The movie is really asking if you can, in spite of all the barriers, be separated and disconnected from the others? Ultimately wouldn’t all barriers come down at one point or another, as it shows in the movie? I think we need to ask ourselves: where does my responsibility stop? The couple in the film think they have done enough, but maybe they have not. We need to have a very sincere conversation to figure out how we all are going to live in this world, together. Especially when we are divided in so many ways. It is the issue of our times.


Q: How important is it to be part of a festival like Santa Barbara and what are your hopes with your film?


Ashish: The greatest thing that comes from being in a festival is the conversation I can have with others, like yourself. A film is only complete when it meets its audience. So, for me, it’s so important to show my film and get the feedback from the people, the audience. I’m grateful to Santa Barbara to give me a platform with our film to reach out to a new audience. I hope this film will plant the seed of hope and discussion about the issue we just talked about.


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