Director, Producer & Screenwriter
Deepa Mehta was born in India and received a degree in philosophy from the University of New Delhi. In 1991, Mehta produced and directed her first feature film Sam & Me, the poignant story of an unlikely friendship between two outcasts who form a deep and permanent bond despite the fact that neither is welcome in the other's world. Sam & Me won the very first Honorable Mention by the Critics in the prestigious Camera D'Or category at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.
In 1992, she directed a one-hour episode of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (the adventures of Indiana Jones as a boy) produced by George Lucas for ABC television. "Benares" was filmed on location in Benares, India.
In 1993, Mehta directed her second feature film, Camilla, a Canadian / UK co-production starring (the late) Jessica Tandy and Bridget Fonda. Other cast members included Elias Koteas, Maury Chaykin, Graham Greene and Hume Cronyn. It was shot on location in Toronto, Ontario and Savannah, Georgia. Camilla had a worldwide release early in 1995.
Mehta directed the final episode of George Lucas's Young Indiana Jones Chronicles in 1994. â€œTravels with Fatherâ€ was shot on location in Prague, C.R. and Greece.
Fire, Mehta's third feature film, based on an original screenplay, was written, directed and produced by Mehta. Fire opened the Perspective Canada Program at the 1996 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was runner-up (with Fly Away Home) for the Air Canada Peopleâ€™s Choice Award. It was one of 29 films selected from over 1400 entries, worldwide, for the prestigious New York Film Festival. At the Vancouver International Film Festival, Fire won the Federal Express Award for Best Canadian Film as chosen by the audience. At the Chicago International Film Festival, it won two Silver Hugo Awards for Best Direction and Best Actress. In Mannheim, Fire won the Jury Award and in Paris, it was voted Favourite Foreign Film. Fire has currently been sold to 30 countries and had its North American release on August 22, 1997, followed by releases in Europe, Australia and India in September 1997.
Earth, based on Bapsi Sidhwa's critically acclaimed novel, Cracking India, is the second film in Mehta's trilogy of the elements, Fire, Earth and Water. Earth was shot in New Delhi, India, in January of 1998. It had its world premiere as a Special Presentation at the 1998 Toronto Film Festival where it was received with a standing ovation and critical acclaim. Earth won the Prix Premiere du Public at the Festival du film Asiatique de Deauville (France) in March 1999 and the Critics' Award at the Schermi d'Amore International Film Festival (Italy) in April of the same year. Currently, Earth has been sold to 22 countries and was selected by the Film Federation of India as India's nomination for consideration for an Academy Award in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.
Her film Bollywood/ Hollywood opened the Perspective Canada Program at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival, and has remained in the top 10 grossing English movies since its Canadian opening on October 25, 2002. In 2003, Mehta co-wrote and directed Republic of Love, starring Bruce Greenwood and Amelia Fox, and based on the novel of the same title by the world-renowned author Carol Shields. In the same year, Mehta won the prestigious CineAsia â€œBest Directorâ€ Award â€“ an acclaim awarded to Steven Spielberg in 2002.
Water, the third film in the â€œelementsâ€ trilogy, opened the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival. Water is the first Canadian film ever acquired by U.S. distributor Fox Searchlight and was released in the United States in the spring of 2006.
Initially, Water was to be shot in India, but Hindu fundamentalists created riots, burnt the sets and issued death threats to the director and actors forcing the film to stop production in early 2000. The film was remounted and completed shooting in Sri Lanka in June 2004.
Water has played many film festivals in North America and internationally, winning festival awards in Sudbury, Edmonton, Italy, Valladolid, Bangkok and San Francisco. The film received the Taormina Arte Awards for Cinematic Excellence in 2006. Water received the Golden Kinnaree Awards for best picture from the Bangkok International Film Festival. The film was nominated for nine Genie awards, winning three. The Vancouver Film Critics Circle named Deepa Mehta the Best Director of a Canadian Film in 2006. More recently, the film was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 79th Annual Academy Awards.
In June of 2008 Mehta received an honorary Doctor of Letters from the Faculty of Humanities at McMaster University for her achievements in the arts. In July of 2008 Mehta received an International Tribute from the Republic of Mexico and its various film and cultural institutions for her outstanding career in film. In fall of 2009, Mehta received an honorary Doctorate from the University of Victoria.
Mehtaâ€™s latest film, Heaven On Earth, is about immigration, isolation and the power of imagination. Starring Preity Zinta, the film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008 and was awarded a Silver Hugo for Best Actress at the Chicago International Film Festival. It also received Best Screenplay award at the Dubai International Film Festival, the Youth Jury Award a the Schermi dâ€™Amore Film Festival in Verona, Italy and the Audience Award at the River to River Florence Indian Film Festival.
In 2009 Mehta collaborated with her brother Dilip Mehta, co-writing the light hearted comedy Cooking with Stella, which had a gala presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival.
SAM AND ME 1991
REPUBLIC OF LOVE 2003
LETS TALK ABOUT IT 2006
HEAVEN ON EARTH 2008