A Testament Of Love: Feirstein’s Saleem Gondal Wins Big With Film ‘Post Term’

Courtesy of Saleem Gondal

By Samia Afsar

 

      Saleem Gondal’s short film “Post Term” is among five winners honored during the Gotham Film & Media Institute’s fourth annual Focus Features & JetBlue Student Short Film Showcase. 

   Created for his MFA thesis film at the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, Gondal’s production was carefully selected by a special jury of filmmakers, curators, and critics who assessed projects from 23 graduate programs across the country.

   “It’s always really nice to know your work is being understood and that there’s an opportunity to celebrate it,” Gondal told The Vanguard while reflecting on his win. “It’s been a really great and overwhelming experience to hear all the positive responses.”

   Set in the fall of 1992 and based on his parent’s first year together in the U.S. as Pakistani immigrants in an arranged marriage, “Post Term” is a beautifully captivating tribute to South Asian relationships, in which intimacy is expressed through gestures in lieu of direct dialogue.

   “I’m really interested in that kind of ephemeral nature of love, and that was something I wanted to do here,” said Gondal. “In South Asian arranged marriages, there is love in most of them or in many of them, but it’s not expressed in the way we would in the West […] there’s a lot of unspoken affections and expressions of love.”

   Due to COVID-related restrictions, Gondal’s film was written, shot, and cast in five months during the pandemic. Gondal conducted separate interviews with his parents detailing the early years of their marriage and their immigrant experience, and requested cast members to translate his English script to Urdu. By trusting their fluency to maintain the film’s storyline, “Post Term” is a film that Gondal credits as a unified collaboration.     

   “It was a very interesting experience because although this is a film that is very personal to me, it’s something that came about with a whole team of collaborators,” said Gondal. “And even though I have been making movies for a while, I don’t think I’ve ever worked with this amount of people who are all as invested in the story as I am.”

   Despite his parents’ experience being the main influence behind “Post Term,” Gondal also reflected on his own recent wedding and the parallels between his marriage and that of his parents in relation to his film. 

   “A lot of the conversations in the film about having kids and what the future holds, they’re things that my parents told me they were thinking about in their marriage, but it’s also a lot of what I’ve been thinking about with me and my partner,” said Gondal. “So I was definitely trying to explore what I think the future will hold for me through their story.”

   Gondal is currently working on a feature film entitled “Tortilla Roti,” which revolves around the Punjabi Mexican community that was formed in the early 20th century, when legislation banned Asians from becoming U.S. citizens or from owning land. Gondal’s film will follow a Punjabi man and a Mexican woman who do not speak the same language, yet form a family and learn to trust in each other in order to both survive and thrive in the American Southwest.

   As of now, Gondal is hoping that with the proper funding, he can begin filming “Tortilla Roti” sometime next year.

   In speaking to aspiring filmmakers, Gondal sends the message that going beyond your abilities only produces a more emotionally receptive and authentic story. 

   “Don’t limit yourself because the world and other people will always try to put limitations on you […] allow yourself the freedom to tell the stories that you need to tell,” he said. 

   Gondal’s film “Post Term” is available to stream on Focus Features, Jetblue, and Youtube.

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