Oscar-winning director sees film's positive impact

Wed Jun 3, 2009 12:40am EDT
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By Rituparna Bhowmik

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A short film about a poor Indian girl with a cleft lip fetched filmmaker Megan Mylan her maiden Oscar this year, and now she can't wait to do more films that could help improve people's lives.

Her 39-minute "Smile Pinki" documentary shows how the life of its outcast heroine, Pinki Sonkar, changes after she is taken to a hospital that provides free surgery to fix the deformity for thousands of children.

The film also helped increase awareness about the condition, gave Sonkar the chance of a better education and brought improvements to her remote village.

The documentary premieres Wednesday on HBO. Speaking from San Francisco, Mylan told Reuters that she plans a limited release of the film in five Indian cities.

Q: How has life changed for you after the Oscar?

A: "It has sort of turned it upside down, but probably not in the way people would expect. Careerwise it's not a game-changing thing. Documentary filmmaking is such a small field anyway. I'm not swamped with offers, and I'm not terribly surprised, either. It's a wonderful recognition of the fact that I'm not lousy at what I do."

Q: How did people react after you won the Oscar?

A: "I have had people reaching out who I've known from all walks of my life. I feel like I had this tremendous embrace from people reaching out to say 'We're so happy for you.' I'm still in the afterglow period.   Continued...

<p>Megan Mylan, winner of the Oscar for best documentary short subject for "Smile Pinki," walks off the stage in the photo room at the 81st Academy Awards in Hollywood, February 22, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>