Tanuj Chopra has been making films since he cut his first student project Hate Crime in the summer of 1998. Since then, his TV, film and commercial projects have taken him from California to India to NYC. In 2003, his short film, Butterfly, was shot, produced and edited in New Delhi, India. Starring Tilotama Shome (Alice from Mira Nair’s smash Monsoon Wedding), the lushly photographed love story won three best film awards in addition to screening at over 20 festivals across North America, Europe, India and Pakistan.
At 28 years old, he wrote, directed and produced his first feature film Punching at the Sun which premiered at the 2006 Sundance film festival as the first South Asian American narrative feature to be selected to the festival. The hard hitting urban tale of loss and redemption also played at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival as well as the 2006 San Francisco Asian American Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize. Punching at the Sun has screened at over 30 festivals and will be released in 2008.
Chopra’s approach to Punching at the Sun was youth driven and community oriented. The entire cast was comprised of first time performers cast from non profit youth and arts organizations like the Queens based SAYA! (South Asian Youth Action) and the New Heritage Theatre in Harlem. Upon completion of the movie, many of the teenage stars appeared at the high profile premieres in Park City, Utah and New York City for lively Q&A sessions with the audience.
Chopra holds a BA in Arts Semiotics from Brown University (1999) and is a graduate of the MFA Film Program at Columbia University. He is a recipient of the School of the Arts Dean’s Fellowship and the FOCUS Film Fellowship.
Tanuj is currently working on a new film starring Tilotama Shome and Sung Kang (The Fast and the Furious, Finishing the Game, The Motel) and also designing a summer filmmaking camp for teenagers in Queens.