By Matters India Reporter
Mumbai, Aug 30, 2023: A Catholic nun in the western Indian city of Mumbai is making ripples in the movie world with her seven-minute fiction film shot in just two days on a mobile phone.
Sister Josefina Albuquerque’s zero-budget movie “D for Dumbo” tells the story of Sam, a fourth grader who is ridiculed because he could not recount tables as quickly as his peers. However, the child – labelled the class dumbo – outshines his classmates when another teacher gives them a creative exercise.
The member of the Religious of Jesus and Mary was applauded recently by renowned Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah.
He presented Sister Josefina, as she is popularly known, the first prize at a function in Mumbai on August 14.
The movie was made as a class project by the first batch of Professional Filmmaking Course at St. Paul’s Communication Centre, Bandra, a Mumbai suburb.
The film is now on its way to the online ALP International Film Festival.
The nun says the film was made with available resources and its topic “resonates with everyone on some level. It was a pleasant surprise for me when Naseeruddin Shah mentioned it during the convocation and said he identified with the protagonist.”
She said her biggest challenge was writing the script.
“I had little training or experience in writing. On the other hand, cinematography and direction came naturally to me. Skills which I self-learned during the lockdown period came handy while editing my films,” said the nun, who is currently the principal of St Agnes High School, Byculla. She had sought permission from her superiors to make the movie at her convenience. She said she wanted to experience the whole process of film-making.
Sister Josefina shot the film at St John the Evangelist School at Marol, Andheri, another Mumbai suburb where she was the principal for five years. Her cast comprised students attending summer classes.
The nun, who has a soft corner for students who are naughty or with learning difficulties, found something unique about the boy who played the character of Sam during the audition.
“The boy comes from a very modest background and was not considered academically bright. We witnessed a transformation in his personality during the acting sessions.”
Earlier, she made a documentary ‘Under the banyan tree – a path to self discovery,’ that traces the life of an engineer who gave up his material comforts to live in the forest of Aarey and help people with their true calling resonates well with many.
Her cinematography skills were applauded when she made an observation shoot in which she had covered the life in a day of an Adivasi. She was intrigued by the lifestyle of the tribals when she went to Aarey forest for walks. She based her shoot on them.
A science and math teacher, Sister Josefina believes in taking her students outdoors for learning sessions as she strongly feels education doesn’t happen only in classrooms. She also points out that we can educate today’s generation using films as a medium.
She says the award means “recognition and confirmation of my belief, combining my passion for filmmaking and education, I feel I can expand my reach to a larger audience.”