Hi Alum Indrani Kopal Wins at Cannes!

Best Short Documentary at Harlem International in 2014, THE GAME CHANGER, awarded on French Riviera!

Original article appeared in the Daily Seni and is reprinted here.

Indrani Kopal, who we previously reported on in our writeup yesterday, has won the Best Student Documentary Award with her film The Game Changer at the American Pavilion‘s Emerging Filmmaker Showcase today at the Cannes Film Festival.

The awards are a part of the American Pavilion’s efforts at honouring excellent work put forward by students and young filmmakers. Indrani’s win marks a first for Hofstra University, where she is currently undergoing a film program.

“I am just in shock,” Indrani said, speaking softly when we met up with her shortly after the win. “It’s quite overwhelming.”

She was in a dazed state, decked in a saree she wore to the event today.

“All the other films just blew me away. I felt that mine was somewhat mediocre compared to so many of them, and I was really shocked when I found out I won.”

“I’m just going to have a quiet night and maybe catch a screening and go out for a drink by myself,” she stated when asked about her plans for the evening.

Indrani’s film competed against A Portrait of Abuse by Nick Chianese and the three-minute short documentary, The Emotional Dimensions of the James River by Michelle Marquez.

The Game Changer was made on a budget of USD3,225 (MYR11,632) which Indrani calculated based on transport fare and meals. It was filmed using school equipment and edited on a Macbook Pro which she invested in by skipping one semester’s worth of tuition fees. The small sacrifices have paid off in a big way for her filmmaking portfolio.

It was a project she carried out by herself, with additional credit to Kurt Sensenbrenner, her cameraman, who also transported set equipment and brought her to the prison where she shot footage. The documentary is mostly set in New Paltz, New York, specifically at MaMa Dance Studio as well as the home of Susan Slotnick.

The Game Changer can be viewed in the documentary corner of the Cannes Film Festival until the 24th of May.


This was an update on the original article contained below.

If you are equally inspired by the work of Indrani Kopal, Susan Slotnick and all the Figures-in-Flight dancers inside and outside of prison, please support Indrani’s trip to Cannes next month and her journey towards making her feature documentary.

Brief Q&A with director Indrani Kopal (reprinted from

What made you decide to do documentaries?

At a very early stage of my film-making career, I knew I didn’t have much interest in the making of fiction films. I was so drawn to real life experiences, real people and real emotions.

I love to listen to people and their stories, and I became addicted to that experience. And more so, I love the flexibility that documentaries offer in storytelling, where I don’t have any pressure to be objective, as required in journalism.

What do you hope to gain from attending the Cannes Film Festival?

Speaking of Cannes, this actually creates a lot pressure for me, as it brings the spotlight on me as a filmmaker. Now that I’ve reached Cannes, the question that lingers in my mind is, what comes next?

I sincerely hope the exposure in Cannes will open doors for me to do a feature-length documentary, which is my ultimate dream, and at the same time to learn and network among my film-making peers. It’s the place to be and now I have the chance to move forward.

How has The Game Changer changed you?

The Game Changer reaffirmed my own belief that dance does heal and art does have the power to transform. And that no matter who you are, or what hideous crime you commit, at end of the day you are still a human being and if you open your heart to change, you can change and you will change.

People like Susan Slotnick chose to make a difference in the world with a small act of kindness and sheer belief that everyone deserves a second chance.

My personal experience after spending almost two years filming and interviewing the released dancers of “Figures-in-Flight Released” Dance company revealed that these men were armed with confidence and positive self-image when they got released.

The importance of these gains in confidence should not be underestimated. Their experiences are no different than my very own, when I discovered dance in 2001 during a period when I was seeking confidence and gaining my own self-esteem.

Her trip to Cannes, France, will cost her about US$5,000 (RM18,512). Malaysiakini is raising funds to help fund her trip, including a possible stopover in Kuala Lumpur.

Those who would like to support Indra’s trip in May can donate to the following Malaysiakini bank account:

Account name: Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd
Bank: Maybank
Account No: 514178153586
Branch: Seapark, Petaling Jaya

Please email a copy of the payment details to for acknowledgment.