“Upaj: Improvise” follows two dance masters—Indian Kathak guru Pandit Chitresh Das and African-American tap star Jason Samuels Smith—as they join forces for an extraordinary artistic collaboration, “India Jazz Suites.” Though they are from two different worlds, the two share a special bond, a desire to preserve their dance traditions. Directed by Hoku Uchiyama, the film is co-presented by the Center for Asian American Media.
by Hoku Uchiyama
Made possible by a partnership with Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)
Winner of a Cannes Young Director Award while a student at the Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA), Hoku Uchiyama has directed several award-winning films. His short film “Rose” has screened in more than 26 film festivals worldwide, winning awards in 12. The film was also featured in American Cinematographer magazine; and his work has also screened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In addition to “Upaj: Improvise,” Hoku has also directed commercials and music videos (with co-director Adam Bolt) for Starbucks and National Geographic as well as with the bands They Might Be Giants and Evelyn Evelyn.
Juggling two full-time careers, Antara is a filmmaker and a Kathak dancer, trained since childhood under Pandit Chitresh Das. After completing her film studies at the New York Film academy, she worked as an assistant director for acclaimed director Jagmohan Mundhra, on films such as Provoked (Aishwarya Rai, Naveen Andrews, Nandita Das). She went on to direct her own feature film at the age of 25, a British suspense thrilled titled Telling Lies, starring Spice Girl Melanie Brown and Jason Flemyng (Curious Case of Benjamin Button). She was a producer on Jag Mundhra’ s political thriller Shoot on Sight (Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri) and is now producing Upaj, her first documentary. As a Kathak dancer and teacher, Antara tours extensively, and has performed all over the U.S. and India.