Leading up to Strasburg Film Festival in November Shenandoah Film Collaborative – Strasburg Film Festival will be highlighting some of the films that will be featured. Today’s preview is Wishful Whiskers. Directed by Pulkit Datta of New York, the film is about a little girl who is stuck in her dad’s boring lunch meeting, little Ella suddenly discovers the curious case of all the mustaches.

Pulkit started his career assisting award-winning director Mira Nair and has since worked on a wide range of international projects with various production companies. He has worked in creative development and production capacities on narrative films, Sundance-backed documentaries, web content, commercials, short films, and multimedia campaigns. Films he has worked on have screened at major festivals including Toronto International Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and NewFilmmakers New York. JASON, a short film written/directed by Pulkit, won the online Reel 13 competition by popular vote and was broadcast on PBS. In 2014, Pulkit was selected as an INK Fellow for his work in the film and media fields. His feature film project COLONY (in development) was also selected for the IFP Emerging Storytellers as part of Film Week 2014.

When submitting the film for consideration, Pulkit provided the following statement about this film:

Wishful Whiskers is a story about a little girl’s imagination running wild as she passes time at her dad’s boring business meeting. The film has a surreal tone, especially when Ella looks around the room, noticing everyone’s mustaches. Even though she’s in a very real setting, she has turned it into a game for herself, using one small detail she notices about her dad’s business partner – his mustache – as an entry point to a world that toys with the boundaries of magical realism.

As a larger theme for the film, I want to highlight that children have an imagination that usually breaks free of societal and gender norms. What if a little girl wants to have a mustache? What if that’s just the game she imagines on this day?

I’m drawing inspiration from the visual and storytelling tone of Wes Anderson films and the French film Amelie. With this film, I not only want to play with the blurring of reality and imagination, but also with the fluidity of gender.

The story also subtly incorporates other types of social commentary. It hints at Ella’s dad being a single father and, in terms of casting, we’re interested in representing non-traditional families. In Ella’s world, all of those realities are “normal.”

Wishful Whiskers is a story that’s close to my heart. It was inspired by the time I’ve spent playing with my nephew and niece and it’s the most liberating script I’ve written. I was able to shed the cynicism and inhibitions of adulthood and imagine a story where a child’s rules apply. Ultimately, it’s a film that I hope encourages and inspires people to think beyond the traditional boundaries of social norms and re-embrace their inner child.

The Strasburg Film Festival will be played at Box Office BreweryThe Grey LotusDiscover Strasburg (Municipal Building) and Shenandoah Museum of Contemporary Art.

All proceeds of the Strasburg Film Festival go to the Shenandoah County Public School’s theatre programs.