Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 06
Mira Nair October 15, 1957
Mira Nair born

Born on October 15, 1957 in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa in India –– a town she later remarked, “even in Indian terms, it's really remote" –– Mira Nair was a director from the very start. At first, it was just the village children. Her father later commented, “Even though the boys were older, she was the leader." As she grew up, she expanded her repertoire of self-expression, learning to play the sitar, to paint, to write poetry and perform street theater. After attending the University of Delhi, Nair received a full scholarship from Harvard. Intending to study drama, Nair interest soon turned to documentary film. And within a few years she created a number of short documentaries dealing with life and Indian and in the Indian Diaspora. For her first feature, Nair, however, pushed the boundaries of documentary to create a hybrid form. For her, documentary proved too constraining since, as she told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Life controlled the film.” The feature SALAAM BOMBAY!, a drama about street kids that used her talents as a writer, performer and documentarian, became an international hit, winning Camera d'Or for Best First Film at the Cannes Film Festival, as well getting an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. In nearly all her films, Mira Nair has shown a talent for bringing together diverse interests, be in the mix of cultures in her American indie debut MISSISSIPPI MASALA, or the mix of styles in her Indie Bollywood romance MONSOON WEDDING, or many generations in THE PEREZ FAMILY. Even in tackling a period piece like VANITY FAIR, Nair was able to showcase to advantage the 19th century novel’s fascination with India. When she first approached the film, she found universal connections between her world and William Thackeray’s : “I'm not a big fan of English period stuffy drawing-room drama. But the modernity of this novel, the fact that social climbing and vanity and greed and ambition, the human folly that we're all part of, is something that is so utterly timeless.”


More Flashbacks
December 6, 1990
Edward Scissorhands released

On December 6, 1990, writer-director Tim Burton nervously opened the lid on his most personal film yet, Edward Scisshorhands, as the movie premiered in Los Angeles.

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December 6, 1970
Gimme Shelter Captures History

One of the most immediate and compelling documentaries ever committed to celluloid was released today in 1970, twelve months to the day after the era-defining tragedy that it depicted. Before directing Gimme Shelter, Albert and David Maysles had made vérité documentaries focusing on celebrities such as Marlon Brando, Orson Welles, Truman Capote and the Beatles and it was the latter experience that convinced Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones to invite the brothers and their creative collaborator Charlotte Zwerin to film the free concert they were headlining at the Altamont Speedway. The concert was attended by an enormous 300,000 people but the free love party was so large that the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang were recruited in the last minute to act as security for the event. Rather than being a West Coast version of Woodstock (which had been held earlier that summer) Altamont instead became infamous for the death of Meredith Hunter, an 18-year-old African-American man, stabbed to death by the Hell’s Angels after drawing a long-barreled revolver. Amazingly, the Maysles caught the incident on film, turning Gimme Shelter into, as Amy Taubin succinctly put it, rock ‘n’ roll’s answer to the Zapruder footage of JFK’s assassination. Not only does the movie feature the fatal incident but, even more compellingly, in one scene we see a clearly affected Jagger watching the incident again as the Maysles edit the footage. A great concert film as well as a hugely important cinematic document hugely altered the trajectory of the Maysles’ career and remains, along with Don’t Look Back, one of the most important music docs ever made.

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