UNCW Film Studies Professor Deepak Rauniyar’s Short Film Selected for Berlin International Film Festival

Monday, January 31, 2022

A film written, directed, edited and produced by UNCW Film Studies Assistant Professor Deepak Rauniyar is among 21 short films from around the world selected to compete in the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) Shorts Competition in February.

Four Nights,” a 16-minute film based on the life of a New York couple struggling to produce a film, was inspired by Rauniyar's own life experience being an immigrant living in Queens, New York, with his wife, Asha Magrati. Both are freelance filmmakers.

“This film really puts the limelight on the life of filmmakers,” said Rauniyar. “We don’t talk about the struggles or challenges faced by those in the industry, whether it is obstacles such as looking for funding for our films or the time span it takes to make a film or deeper issues of classism and racism.”

The pandemic added extra challenges to completing “Four Nights,” forcing a script rewrite so Rauniyar could shoot the film entirely indoors, but the changes have paid off.

“It is exciting for any filmmaker to be premiering in a top film festival,” said Rauniyar. “Screenings at festivals like Berlin, Toronto, Cannes, Sundance and Venice are valuable exposure and create a market opportunity for both current and future films.”  

Rauniyar, who recently joined the UNCW faculty, was the first Nepali filmmaker to compete at a major international film festival. His debut film, “Highway,” premiered at the 2012 Berlinale, and he has been collecting accolades ever since. Among his other works are “White Sun” and two films currently in development, “The Sky is Mine” and his first English film, “High and Low.”  

“Directors dream of having a film in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival,” said Dr. Mariana Johnson, film studies department chair. “For work of this caliber to be produced by one of our brand-new faculty members, and screened in such a context, speaks to the exceptional quality of the film studies program at UNCW. Deepak Rauniyar is an important artist, and we are proud to call him our colleague.”

The department recently added a Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking program, and Rauniyar is teaching graduate students in classes like “Directing and Producing Narrative Films” and “Screenwriting,” drawing from his valuable experiences and industry connections. Recently, international filmmaker Isabel Sandoval, the first openly transgender filmmaker to compete at a major film festival, visited Rauniyar’s classroom to share her filmmaking experiences.

“Teaching students and collaborating on movie projects every week with them keeps me motivated and connected,” said Rauniyar. “As a filmmaker, you want to know as much as you can about life. Getting to know students, their roots, their obstacles and their stories of growing up inspires me a lot, and I hope to inspire them as well. At UNCW, we can produce our own filmmakers, directors and writers from here, so we aren’t just supporting the industry creators that travel to Wilmington from other places—our students will be the creators.”

The Berlinale Awards Ceremony will be held Feb. 16, 2022. Rauniyar and Magrati will attend the ceremony.

-- Krissy Vick



 Film Studies Assistant Professor Deepak Rauniyar