Another Oscar award for India, only this time… it is a Junior Oscar. In other words, a Student Academy Award. Without much furore, sans titles like ‘India’s Pride’, 22-year-old Eaza Shukla stands as a shining example of the accolades that Indians the world over are winning in the international arena.
The Academy Awards, commonly known as the Oscar Awards, are considered the highest honour among cinema artists as it attracts the entire world’s attention. This same Oscar Committee has been awarding the ‘Student Academy Awards’ to students for the past 45 years. These awards, instituted in 1972, have been given on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science to outstanding achievers in film-making at the collegiate level. Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards are awarded under a total of 7 categories to students from American and international film-making colleges. The icing on the cake is that the winning entries are eligible for nominations at the next year’s Academy Awards. So, this year’s winners are eligible for the 2019 Academy Awards.
The 45th Student Academy Awards ceremony took place at the renowned Goldwyn Theatre in the city of Los Angeles in the United States of America on October 11, 2018. In this, the 2.30-minute animation film – “Re-Gifted” – that was written and directed by Eaza Shukla from India has won the Bronze for the best animation film under the Domestic (American) Schools category.
Eaza was born in Navi Mumbai. Her father is an engineer and her mother is a homemaker. She hails from a family without any major ties to the film industry. Being in love with cartoons since her childhood, she has made her dream come true making her mark in her first attempt itself. She completed her schooling in the Delhi Public School at Navi Mumbai and joined the Ringling Arts and Design College for higher studies.
Re-Gifted is an extraordinary film without any dialogues. With only a mellow background score, the impact the film makes on the viewer is remarkable. The film is about a decorative object that has a life of its own. It is gifted to a person because of its beauty, but is unused and later re-gifted to someone else. The story follows the object’s journey as it is re-gifted from one person to another and finally is hidden away in the darkness of a thrift store. This meaningless journey of the object comes to a standstill at this point. What happens next is a beautiful poignant twist in the story.
Out of the 1582 films, only 19 winners were selected. Eaza has the additional honour of being the only Indian out of the 19 winners. Read on to see what she has to say about the film and her victory:
How do you feel winning the Academy award while being a student?
It is difficult to express my happiness in words. I am ecstatic now. I feel very proud to share the stage with the legends of cinema. I was not expecting this.
How are you celebrating this victory?
My family, friends, college administration, teachers – all of them are celebrating this victory with me. I recently took part in the ‘Academy Week’ programme organised by the Academy along with the other winning contestants. We met many members of the Academy and visited Hollywood studios. It was an exhilarating experience. These experiences are a celebration for me.
How did you develop this interest in animation?
I was born and brought up in Navi Mumbai. I was pampered by my grandfather and grandmother, who let me watch a lot of TV programs. I grew up watching Disney movies, cartoons, and animation movies. My favourite hobby was to draw the cartoons and animated characters that I loved watching. I was fascinated by the ease with which animated movies were able to convey the most profound values in a simple yet entertaining manner. That’s why I wanted to tell my stories in this insightful way through animation.
What would you like to say about your winning short film, “Re-Gifted”?
I wanted my story to connect emotionally with everyone. When I was thinking up the story it was the Christmas season here. It is quite common for one person to re-gift their Christmas present to someone else. I imagined how it would be if that gift had a life. That’s how this story was born.
Does this story mirror your mind?
Absolutely! I have tried in this film to convey the emotions I had felt in my life when I was isolated or lonely. I wanted to say that sometimes things which are hated for their external appearance might be very beautiful inside. The crux of the story is that everyone should believe “I am special” themselves.
What is your future plan?
This award is a beginning. As an Indian girl, this victory makes me feel that I have won the entire world. I believe that the future will be based on the opportunities that come up. My wish is to use this victory to keep contributing to the animation industry.
You can view the Student Academy Award-winning short film here:
At a time when the Oscars are still a distant dream for many, let us wish this young student winner all the very best!