Written and produced by Indian American filmmaker Anjul Nigam, the movie is nominated in the best film category at the OzFlix Independent Film Awards.
There are some movies the thought of which continues to bring a smile on your face, long after you have watched it. Growing Up Smith, a movie set in the late 1970s about a young immigrant boy and his family in the United States, does just that. And for the makers of the movie, the nostalgia comes along with accolades.
The 2017 movie, directed by Australian filmmaker Frank Lotito and co-written by Indian American Anjul Nigam, Pal Quinn and Gregory Houghton, has recently been nominated for the OzFlix Independent Film Awards 2019, which will be held later this month in Melbourne, Australia.
Growing Up Smith is nominated in the “Best Film” in the $2 million to 5 million category. This would be the second edition of the Independent Film Awards, being dubbed as the Ozzies. The awards recognize achievements in independent Australian films made for less that AUD $5 million. The categories include Best Film Under $500K, Best Film Under $2 million, Best Film Under $5 million, as well as Best Documentary along.
Talking about the film’s Australian connect, the Los Angeles-based Anjul Nigam, who produced, wrote and acted in the film, says, “Back in 1995, my producing partner, Frank Lotito, and I met as actors on a Showtime film called SILVER STRAND that we shot in Melbourne, Australia and in which Frank was a locally based actor. We were friends for the course of the shoot, but as is often the case in production, I lost touch with Frank after the shoot. Nearly 18 years later, Frank and I connected over Facebook. He was producing at the time and I shared Growing Up Smith with him, which I was in development with. One thing lead to another, and he joined the project as a producer and eventually took the reigns as a director when my writing partner, the late Paul Quinn, who was set to direct, became ill. Frank did an exceptional job and I believe Paul would have been proud of the work he did.”
The film tells the story of 10-year-old Indian boy Smith with both sensitivity and humor. It shows two disparate worlds many immigrants to America are found straddling in. Told both from a child’s, as well as the parents’ perspective, it depicts an Indian vegetarian family and their adventures as their two kids verge towards American lives, in a nod to their new adopted home.
“It’s a film I’m very proud of,” Nigam said. “[It] leaves the audience with a renewed sense of compassion for the world we live in, and evokes emotions of times they remember with fondness.”
Writer Gregory Houghton originally conceived of the idea while he shared an apartment with four Indian roommates. “I set out to write a story that was universal — that idea (or understanding) — that countries are the sum of all of their amazing, diverse people,” he told the American Bazaar. “Australia has a rich history of immigration — not unlike the US — and not unlike many, many strong nations — and the tale of families migrating to new worlds — often with great challenge — in hopes of better lives for themselves and their families, is inherently human nature, historically what formed this world and makes it great, and universally understood.”
When it made its theatrical release in the United States in 2017, the film got good response, besides garnering critical acclaim at various film festival circuits. It won the Best of the Fest Top 5 Award at the Seattle Film Festival in 2015. It also won various awards at many festivals, including the Woodstock Film Festival, Naples International Film Festival and Garden State Film Festival, among many others. It was also listed as TIME magazine’s pick of the week.