Los Altos, Calif., resident Saila Kariat followed the traditionally prescribed path for second-generation Indian Americans and studied electrical engineering, making it all the way to a Ph.D. She worked as an engineer for many years, had a family, and in pursuit of spending more time with family, started designing and building custom residential homes. Alongside that she completed a degree in film at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif., but it was not until middle age that she got the opportunity to do what she wanted to do all along: filmmaking.
And now Kariat is ready with her debut film, “The Valley,” which is not only a spotlight film at this year’s Cinequest Film and VR Festival, to be held Feb. 28 through March 12 in San Jose and Redwood City, Calif., but which also highlights the pressure that young people undergo to meet their parents’ expectations.
“The Valley,” featuring Indian, Pakistani and U.S.-based actors, is set to be screened March 5 at California Theater in San Jose; and March 6, March 9 and March 11 at Century 20 in Redwood City.
The cast of “The Valley” comprises of Alyy Khan, Suchitra Pillai, Samina Peerzada, Jake T. Austin, Christa B. Allen, David S. Lee, Barry Corbin, Agneeta Thacker and Salma Khan, among others.
The film follows the life of an affluent, successful Indian American entrepreneur, Neal Kumar, his wife Roopa and his daughters Monica and Maya who reside in the high octane, technologically driven culture that is Silicon Valley, said a press release. His ambitious, affluent life appears idyllic from the exterior; however, when his daughter Maya tragically commits suicide, the fractured nature of his interior life becomes apparent to himself and those around him.
The story of “The Valley” evolved from many of Kariat’s own observations and life experiences, she mentions on the film’s Web site. “I have witnessed the pressure that young people undergo to meet their parents’ expectations and its deleterious effects, particularly in the immigrant community,” she writes. “I have also seen mental health issues ignored because of the stigma and shame associated with them. My brother, a vibrant dynamic person, was struck down with schizophrenia in his late teens. His constant struggles are something I will never forget.”
Though the story is told from the perspective of an Indian family, Kariat hopes that “The Valley” will resonate not only amongst immigrants, but with all people struggling to keep up with the pace, demands and lack of real human connection of modern life. “It is my desire that ‘The Valley’ finds a large audience consisting of a diverse set of ethnicities, and age groups,” she adds.
Watch the trailer of “The Valley” here: