1. About Uma

Uma da Cunha obtained her Masters Degree in English Literature in Delhi University – and taught the subject for a year at Miranda House. She then won a scholarship for higher studies at Richmond University, Virginia, USA. This was followed by a training course in advertising copy-writing in Lintas, London. On her return to India, she worked as senior manager in the copywriting departments of leading advertising agencies (Grants, Lintas, MCM) for over ten years. All along, her interest in films and the film society movement was a driving force. Over this period she was Hon. Sec. with Anandam Film Society and she initiated Dristhi, the film society in Bombay that promoted Indian art cinema. Much later da Cunha also served briefly as President, Maharashtra Region of the Federation of Film Societies.

In 1974, she quit advertising to join the Directorate of Film Festivals, Government of India and worked there for three years, where she learnt at first hand the scope and functioning of organizing international film events. At the time there was an interest in opening a Bombay branch of DFF where da Cunha was given to understand she may be positioned. When this plan did not materialize, da Cunha quit this job as she wanted to be with her husband at their home in Bombay.

da Cunha then branched out on her own to pursue her interest in the area of film. Since the late 70s to the present day, da Cunha has worked on her own offering professional help in film and media. Over this period, her primary interests have specialised into three areas. One: programming of Indian cinema in film festivals that are held in India and abroad. Two: academic and journalistic writing on the subject of Indian cinema. Three: serving as a Casting Director mainly for films being made in English, mostly by directors who live outside of India.

Uma da Cunha is the India representative of the Toronto International Film Festival since mid 1990s. In 1994, da Cunha curated Toronto’s tribute to new Indian cinema which was called “India-Now!”. She was the India representative for the Locarno International Film Festival (from 2000 to 2005). and in 2002, she curated Locarno’s highly appreciated section “Indian Summer”, which presented a 30-film over-view of new Indian cinema. Uma is also the programmer for the Dubai International Film Festival inaugurated in December 2004 as well as the UN festival for Desertification held in Rome in December 2006.

In addition she helps the New York Film Festival with their India-related focus – such as their Tributes to Ritwik Ghatak, Shabana Azmi, and in 2005 a tribute to Amitabh Bachchan.

In recent years da Cunha has been assisting festivals held abroad that are devoted entirely to Indian cinema such as the River to River Indian Film Festival started in 2001 in Florence held every December, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) headed by Christina Marouda and launched in 2002, and in July 2004, the Bollywood and Beyond Film Festival held in Stuttgart. In 2007, Uma also assisted the festival in New York called The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

Uma da Cunha is a film journalist, writer and researcher. She edited the first complete biography on Satyajit Ray called “Montage – Monograph on Satyajit Ray” published in 1967 in her maiden name, Uma Krupanidhi. This prized monograph is now in the Library of Congress, Washington DC. She has also written a monograph on the documentary film maker, S Chari, which was aimed at raising funds for his bereaved family.

Since 1975 she has been writing the chapter on Indian cinema for the respected UK annual called “The International Film Guide”. She has written several publications on Indian cinema for the Directorate of Film Festivals. When the festival of India toured the USA, da Cunha edited the book “The New Generation” as a compendium to the Museum of Modern Art’s presentation of new Indian cinema. In early 2000 she wrote the chapter on Silent Cinema for Einadu, Italy’s foremost publicity house and was commissioned again by them in 2004 to write a chapter each on ten of India’s finest directors. She has also written for French and Japanese publications. da Cunha covers film festivals as a free-lancer for leading publications in India.

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