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‘The best decision of my life': Award-winning film director says studying at Middlesex University Dubai encouraged her to reach for the stars

06/07/2020

A passion for the Big Screen and support from her lecturers helped Middlesex Dubai graduate Lakshmi Sathish pursue her dreams of working in film and become an internationally recognised director and screenwriter

An award-winning film director and screenwriter has her sights set on the Big Screen - and recalls how she would never have pursued her passion had it not been for the encouragement of her lecturers at Middlesex University Dubai.

Class of 2018 BA Honours Film alumna Lakshmi Sathish, born and raised in Dubai, has received widespread acclaim for her short film ‘Hers Truly’ - about the relationship between a stepmother and daughter - and she has gone on to win awards at film festivals around the world. At the Emirates Short Film Festival 2019, ‘Hers Truly’ received six nominations and won in three major categories: Best Actress, Best Screenplay, and Best Film.

The 22-year-old is now balancing her time between a Master’s in Film at Middlesex University London whilst writing the script for what she hopes will become her debut feature-length film.

But, says Lakshmi, her dreams almost didn’t become a reality.

After choosing to study at Middlesex University Dubai, which was her chance to see “a multicultural view of the world” after spending all of her previous education within Indian schools - Lakshmi originally chose to do a BA in Journalism.

Despite having a passion for movies, she had, after conversations with relatives, decided instead to pursue a journalism career. It was three weeks into her course, during a module in Media Production, that a lecturer noticed that Lakshmi’s passion lay in film and scriptwriting.

Encouragement by her lecturers led Lakshmi to have the courage to have an honest conversation with her family about her true passion - and, following a seamless transition to the University’s esteemed BA Film course, Lakshmi was back on the right track.

“Sitting in my first film class, I knew I had finally found my calling,” she recalled. “While from a young age I have always been into writing, this passion led me to write about films. I thought, ‘how can I write about films if I do not know the craft?’. It led me to do my research and I found screenwriting really excited me.”

After her switchover, Lakshmi said she relished being in a multicultural class with supportive lecturers.

“In my BA Class I was the only Indian - and this was really refreshing to me,” she says. “Growing up I had only interacted with other Indians my whole life and been to Indian schools being around so many different nationalities was a fresh learning experience, that, to this day, I still cherish. The teaching experience is completely immersive and students are able to work on real world projects and receive significant industry exposure.

“The teachers were all so committed to their craft. It meant it was so much more than just a teacher-student relationship. These lecturers were people I could look up to and they all made my time at Middlesex University Dubai the most memorable experience of my life.

“I am still in contact with all my teachers two years on and I can truly say I built bonds for life.”

It was during her final year at university that Lakshmi made her short film ‘Hers Truly’ as part of her dissertation. The short film was chosen to be the winner of Middlesex University Dubai’s Senior Showcase - leading to her film being shown on the big screen at Roxy Cinemas. This propelled the film into further international recognition, with ‘Hers Truly’ receiving nominations at seven film festivals worldwide, with Lakshmi also being flown out to showcase at the Hong Kong Film Festival on a special grant of $8,000.

“It was a wonderful journey,” recalls Lakshmi. Her instant stardom meant Lakshmi, upon graduating, secured an internship with renowned Indian film director, screenwriter, and producer Mani Ratnam.

“That was my very first experience working on set. It was brilliant; my course at Middlesex University Dubai had really prepared me for it, but it was also on a larger scale than anything I had done before and there were a lot of people involved. Despite the challenges, I performed well and was very happy with the way I could support the crew.”

Lakshmi also wanted to give back to the university that had shown her so much support and for six months she worked at the Dubai campus as a young lecturer teaching Digital Production.

But once again, says Lakshmi, the University supported her development by awarding her a scholarship to study a Master’s in Film at Middlesex University London.

Whilst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has meant she has returned home to Dubai, the university’s distance learning programme means Lakshmi is able to complete her Master’s while being safe with her family and juggling a job for a London architectural firm with whom she creates short videos and content. Lakshmi already has her final dissertation in mind.

“I want to write scripts and direct a feature-length film. I am keeping it under wraps right now - but it will be a very personal story. Who knows where it will go, but I keep my fingers crossed.”

Until then, Lakshmi has a thank you for her former lecturers.

“I treasure my time at Middlesex University Dubai. These lecturers are people who will help you for life. By the time I graduated the people and faculty I met were like family.

“Choosing Middlesex University Dubai was the best decision I ever made.”

Middlesex University Dubai is the first overseas campus of the internationally renowned Middlesex University in London. The campus, which opened in January 2005, has more than 3,500 students from over 100 nationalities and offers foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in a wide variety of subject areas.

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