Takoma Park is not Hollywood.
Still, the small town in Maryland is the backdrop for a compelling story, says sophomore Vikrum Mathur.
Mathur acted in “Takoma Park,” a 10-minute short film which will be showcased at the DC Independent Film Festival on Saturday, March 14 at 7 p.m. The film, directed by David Andalman, was featured in the Tribeca Film Festival last year.
Mathur detailed the theme of the film: self-discovery, understanding and identity – in high school.
“The story is great,” said Mathur, who plays the third lead in the film. The film follows a student named Jolie, who joins his high school’s basketball team.
Mathur said the director “wanted to portray this rift that occurs in high school as we find our own path and really become aware of race and class.”
“I play the main character’s best friend, Haroon, who is Afghani,” he said, adding, “It was really easy to relate to my character because he’s a nerd, like me.”
Mathur has been acting on stage since he was three years old.
He heard about the role through members of an Indian-American theater group who he performed with in his home town of Takoma Park. Andalman, originally from Takoma Park, was looking for a young actor; Mathur auditioned and got the part. He worked with Andalman and the other actors for one week to complete the short.
“It’s not a cliché movie about high school,” he said. “The themes within it are deep and can be applied to a broad range of audiences – not just teens or adults. Everyone can identify.”
“Takoma Park” was selected to be in the Tribeca Film Festival last year and was later selected to be featured in the DC Independent Film Festival.
“I could not believe it. It was literally a dream come true,” Mathur said of learning of the film’s inclusion in Tribeca, known for releasing quality work.
Mathur hosts an Indian-American television show that airs in Maryland, but has put other acting plans on hold while he completes an international affairs degree at the University.
“I’d love to be an actor, but I’m [in college] and I really want to pursue international affairs. If opportunities come my way though, I will definitely take them,” he said.
“Takoma Park” will screen Saturday, March 14 at 7 p.m. at Phoenix Theatre in Union Station as part of the DC Independent Film Festival. The festival will continue through Sunday, March 15.