Sonali Gulati is an independent filmmaker, a feminist, grass-roots activist, and an educator. She teaches film at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts in the department of Photography & Film. She has an MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University and a BA in Critical Social Thought from Mount Holyoke College. Gulati grew up in New Delhi and has made several short films and a feature-length documentary that have screened at over four hundred film festivals worldwide.
Her films have screened at venues such as the Hirshhorn Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and at film festivals such as the Margaret Mead Film Festival, the Black Maria Film Festival and the Slamdance Film Festival. Gulati’s award-winning documentary film I Am was broadcasted on public television and cable TV in the U.S. and Portugal. Her documentary film Nalini by Day, Nancy by Night, was broadcast on television in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, The Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.
Gulati has won awards, grants, and fellowships from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Creative Capital Foundation, the Third Wave Foundation, World Studio Foundation, the Robert Giard Memorial Fellowship, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship, the Theresa Pollak Prize for Excellence in the Arts, the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), and VCU School of the Arts Faculty Award of Excellence.
As a South Asian woman living in the United States, I have found myself keenly interested in the politics of “representation” in mass media. I find myself drawn to the kind of self, subject, and subjectivity portrayed in film. These are issues that I have grappled with and continue to explore in my own creative work.
I am most interested in making films that create a stronger presence for diverse, under-represented, and silenced voices. My work fuses art and politics from a place of passion for activism and determination towards social change. I often ask myself: Why this film? Or more importantly: Why am I making this film? As a result, my work is driven by deeply personal motivations that strive to strengthen the connection between my self and my work as a filmmaker.
As for content, I am particularly interested in working on issues of identity, in exploring not just neatly defined categories of race, class, gender, and sexuality but more the intersections, overlaps, and spaces in between these categories. This approach translates itself into decisions in formal aesthetic choices too.
I find myself questioning, pushing, and crossing boundaries of genre (as a form) by mixing traditional “documentary” with “fictional narratives” or even making the “fictional” aspect of “documentary” more transparent. More recently, I have been toying with a layered approach of telling and re-telling “a story” from multiple points-of-views aiming to stretch “representations” into “re-presentations”. Ultimately, my goal is to not only find innovative ways of storytelling, but also to create films as organizing tools, in the hope of making this a safe, sustainable, and just world.