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Punching at the Sun


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Punching at the Sun


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Punching at the Sun (2006)

Punching at the Sun is a crackling, emotionally-charged dream ride through the streets of Elmhurst, Queens.  It is a tale of rage and redemption as seen through the fiery eyes of Mameet Nayak: a headstrong Indian teen lost in the shadow of his brother's death.

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"Sheds light on an American perspective rarely reflected on the screen and glistens with the freshness and vital energy of a new directorial voice."
-Shari Frilot, Sundance Film Festival

"Distinctive, original, and iconoclastic."
-John Anderson, Variety

"A poetic and moving tale that speaks to all layers of the South Asian diaspora with power and clarity."
-Lisa Tsering, India West

"Finally!"
-Filmiholic

"Punching at the Sun rings true from the first frames."
-Asianweek

"The best South Asian American film ever."
-Hyphen Magazine 

"It has a tenderness and intimacy that recall recent small-scale NYC triumphs like Our Song and Raising Victor Vargas."
-Dennis Lim, Village Voice

"The kind of film that might usher in a new cross-over of Indian filmmaking into the Hollywood mainstream."
-Johnathan W. Hickman, Entertainment Insiders

"Chopra heads an emerging wave of South Asian filmmakers moving beyond formulaic family melodramas and exotic cultural ethnographies."
-Oliver Wang, San Francisco Asian American Film Festival

 

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Synopsis


Synopsis


Punching at the Sun is a crackling, emotionally-charged dream ride through the streets of Elmhurst, Queens.  It is a tale of rage and redemption as seen through the fiery eyes of Mameet Nayak: a headstrong Indian teen lost in the shadow of his brother's death.

When Mameet's older brother Sanjay is gunned down in the family convenience store, a wave of loss reverberates through Elmhurst.  The neighborhood loses a local basketball legend, the family loses a dutiful first-born son, and Mameet loses a mentor and best friend.

One month later, Mameet is seething with grief, confusion and adolescent nihilism.  He is a benchwarmer on the basketball team, doesn't listen to his coach, and feels antagonistic towards the world at large.  Along with his friends Ritesh and Parnav, he becomes a magnet for trouble, unable to suppress his fits of rage.  Retreating inside a persona of teenage bravura, he becomes embroiled in a series of conflicts.

Over the course of four sweltering days, the story tracks the emotional unraveling of a young man.  An impulsive act lands him in a youth detention center.  His refusal to listen to his coach plants him firmly on the bench.  A misguided attempt to protect his sister Dia's honor erodes his already rocky family life.  The lone bright spot is the neighborhood sneaker salesgirl Shawni, a spirited romantic with the potential to crack through Mameet's self destructive exterior.

Between rap performances by the charismatic MC Uncle Sonny, and confrontations with local streetball king Tali Perez, Mameet finds himself struggling to muster a sense of hope in a violent world he feels is determined to view him as an outsider.  Haunted by visions of his dead brother, and exasperated by the dead-end dreams of his friends, he must balance his anger and grief with his natural talent if he is to reconnect with his family, envision the future, and restore feelings to his heart.

Punching at the Sun is a fresh take on a coming-of-age story that explores the bind of brotherhood and blurs the barrier between the living and the dead.  It is a testament to hope in the face of violence and to the enduring power of brotherly love.

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Cast and Crew


Cast and Crew


Cast

Mameet ................... Misu Khan
Shawni .................... Nina Edmonds
Uncle Sonny .......... Hassan El-Gendi
Dia ............................ Ferdusy Dia
Parnav ..................... Kazi Rahman
Ritesh ...................... Taran Singh
Sanjay ...................... Mohammad Mirza
Priti ............................ Rana Quraishi
Satish ....................... Farhad Asghar
Tali Perez ................. Raymond Vasquez
Coach Dobbs .......... Keyonn Sheppard

Production Crew

Director ................................... Tanuj Chopra
Screenplay by ........................ Tanuj Chopra
                                                    Hart Eddy
Director of Photography ....... Milton Kam
Additional Photography ........ Yusuke Naito
Editor ....................................... Joe Murphy
Additional Editing................... Harish Chandra
Co-producer ........................... Dafina Roberts
                                                    Hart Eddy
Production Designer ............. Amanda Ford
1st AC ...................................... Mitch Gross
2nd AC ..................................... Yusuke Naito
Sound ...................................... Jessie Malings
Gaffer ....................................... Mike Mervilde
Assistant Director .................. Hassan El-Gendi
                                                     Albert Lee
Production Coordinator ........ Shivani Manghnani
Wardrobe ................................. Kizzy Cox
Props ........................................ Aisha Roberts
2nd AD ...................................... Charles Thornton
3rd AD ....................................... Luther Isler
Transportation Coordinator .. Arun Chopra
Script Supervisor .................... Hart Eddy
Music ......................................... Devinder Sahota
                                                      Nishant Verma
Additional Music ...................... Charles Mack
                                                      Yuuki Matthews
Assistant Editor ........................ Ravi
Associate Producers ...............Josh Bettinger
                                                      Mridu Chandra
                                                      Smriti Mundhra
                                                      Arun Chopra
                                                      Gordon Austin
Producer .................................... Tanuj Chopra