While attending Sundance Film Festival, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with UK-based composer, Nainita Desai.
Desai talked about her start in the film industry working on feature films, and eventually moving onto composing for documentary films. We discussed her most recent work, music for the documentary The Reason I Jump, which premiered at Sundance. As well, she touched upon her work on For Sama, the Oscar-Nominated documentary which was a festival favourite in 2019.
The Reason I Jump (United Kingdom)
Director: Jerry Rothwell
Based on the best-selling book by Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump is an immersive cinematic exploration of neurodiversity through the experiences of nonspeaking autistic people from around the world. The film blends Higashida’s revelatory insights into autism, written when he was just 13 years old, with portraits of five remarkable young people. The film opens a window for audiences into an intense and overwhelming, but often joyful, sensory universe.
The film’s style leads audiences to Naoki’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say.
For Sama (United Kingdom)
Director: Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts
The film shows Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years in Aleppo, Syria before and during The Battle of Aleppo. An 18-year-old marketing student at the University of Aleppo when the uprising began in 2011, we watch as she falls in love, gives birth to her first daughter Sama and navigates motherhood all while the conflict begins to engulf the city. She and her husband, a doctor at one of the few remaining hospitals in the city, face an agonising decision to flee to safety or stay behind to help the innocent victims of war. For Same unfolds as a love letter from al-Kateab to her daughter — Sama.
Listen to our conversation and find out more about Desai’s work on these films, her journey into the film industry, and her upcoming projects.