Veena Rao is a New York based documentary filmmaker and producer. Her short documentary work reflects her rare ability in finding unique stories that are hidden in plain sight. Her adaptability in approach truly lets the focus of the story shine through. Her first film, Mrs. Henderson's Kids, a short documentary about her second grade teacher who has collected, named and given personalities to the over 2,000 dolls, one of which is named after Veena, is a story that clearly would not have been as wonderful in the hands of another filmmaker. The connection Veena has to the story informs Mrs. Henderson's comfort in front of the camera, and candor in sharing her story. Mrs. Henderson's Kids went on to be an official selection at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
Her short film, The Honeys and the Bears , is a charming exposition featuring a heartening group of senior women who together make up a synchronized swim team in Harlem, New York. Veena directed this short documentary, which is one of many examples of Veena's filmmaking talents - in this film the story unfolds naturally and effortlessly, there is no sense of the filmmaker, no sense of an agenda, only the voices of the women and their experiences as The Honeys and the Bears. This wonderful film was featured on The Atlantic and The National Geographic Short Film Showcase.
Veena co-directed There She Is with Emily Sheskin - the documentary follows two beauty queen hopefuls in the 2011 American Beauties Plus Pageant, reflecting on what the experience means to them, their hopes and dreams. The film returns a year after the pageant as the two women reflect on the experience. The film screened at several festivals nationwide and was featured on numerous publications including Huffington Post, and Jezebel.
I think sometimes a story is meant to be a short and not a feature. And it is a stronger and more effective film because it is a short. But within the filmmaking community and the wider world, shorts are not given as much value or exposure as features, and are often seen as merely springboards to features and not as complete and viable films on their own. I'd love to see short filmmakers gain more exposure for their work.
Veena is an active active member of Film Fatales, New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) and Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective (BFC). She is currently in post production on Mumbai Mornings, a short documentary about an ultramarathon runner who works as a jewelry polisher during the day and finds freedom and peace in running along the city’s picturesque Marine Drive during the early hours of the morning.
Veena is immersed in the documentary world, she believes in the importance of her medium and her directing style is effortless and allows the viewer to get a glimpse into the life and story of each subject. We can't wait to see what Veena will create through The BUREAU - whatever it is we know it will be wonderful.