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On the Verge: Gita Pullapilly is living the dream

ART SHRIAN | 12/13/2013, 2:53 p.m.
Director-producer Gita Pullapilly (Sunny Side Up Films), winner of the Euphoria Calvin Klein Live the Dream Grant for her indie feature “Beneath the Harvest Sky” (Photo courtesy of IFP Gotham Awards)

The Gotham Independent Awards, the annual New York event that kicks off awards season, looked more like the Oscars this year, with a roster of attendees that included Forest Whitaker, Ethan Hawke, Jared Leto and Shailene Woodley.

This year’s event was very special for rising director-producer Gita Pullapilly (Sunny Side Up Films), who won the Euphoria Calvin Klein Live the Dream Grant ($25,000) for her indie feature “Beneath the Harvest Sky.”

Patting ourselves on the metaphoric back, Art and I knew that Pullapilly would take the prize! We shared our predictions with her when we conducted this interview three days before the award ceremony.

Here’s what Pullapilly had to say about New York City, indie filmmaking and what the Euphoria Calvin Klein Live the Dream Grant means to her future and other female indie filmmakers.

AmNews: We think you’re the winner of the Live the Dream Grant, so Art and I are sending our congratulations early. What’s it like to be you?

Pullapilly: As an Indian-American, I have always dreamed of making movies. “Beneath the Harvest Sky” is my directorial debut.

To be nominated for the Live the Dream Grant is a tremendous honor. This will allow us to be seen by a larger audience but also allow us to take the film to communities that may not have had a chance to see the film otherwise. As independent filmmakers, sometimes you feel alone in the filmmaking process. But to have the support of IFP [Independent Filmmaker Project] has been an enormous boost.

AmNews: Art and I think you’ve won. We’re not being polite. We’re being creatively honest and objective. So what what’s your thoughts on winning?

Pullapilly: OK, to win the Live the Dream Grant would be an incredible honor and also hopefully show other aspiring female artists out there that it is possible to reach those next to impossible dreams.

The New York film community is vital to independent film. It’s where filmmakers come to find the best, talented actors and production services. The New York film community allows independent filmmakers to have a voice and a platform, and we are forever grateful.

Euphoria Calvin Klein has enjoyed a four-year partnership with IFP. This year, they were the platinum sponsor at the 23rd Gotham Independent Film Awards, which were held at Cipriani Wall Street.

The evening’s guests who were wardrobed by Calvin Klein Collection included Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan, Oscar Isaac, host for the evening Nick Kroll and IFP Executive Director Joana Vicente.

Whitaker also received a career tribute for his contribution to independent film.

The evening was also presented by FIJI, Russian Standard and Mionetto Prosecco.