Megan Mylan: Smile Pinki Print E-mail


Watch Trailer: HERE
ABOUT: SMILE PINKI A real-world fairy-tale about the journey of Pinki and Ghutaru, two children in rural India born desperately poor and with a cleft lip. 2008, 39 Minutes
SMILE PINKI is a real-world fairytale about the journey of Pinki and Ghutaru, two children in rural India born desperately poor and with a cleft lip. The simple surgery that can cure them is a distant dream until they meet Pankaj, a social worker traveling village to village, gathering patients for a hospital that provides free surgery to thousands each year. Told in a vibrant verite-style, the film follows its two wide-eyed protagonists on a journey from isolation to embrace. 39 minutes, In Hindi with English subtitles

{SILVERDOCS Film Festival – World Premiere, 2008}
{BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT – Nominee, International Documentary Association 2008}


Director/Producer Megan Mylan is an Oscar and Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker and Guggenheim Fellow. She is currently directing a film on the struggle for racial equality in Brazil. Her film, Lost Boys of Sudan, co-directed with Jon Shenk, won an Independent Spirit Award and was nominated for two national Emmys. The film was broadcast on PBS’s POV and had a 70-city theatrical release. Through an extensive social action campaign, it has raised more than a million dollars for refugee education funds, mobilized exciting student action around the Darfur crisis and recruited thousands of volunteer mentors for refugees. Mylan also directed Batidania on Brazilian resistance music. She has worked on documentaries for HBO, PBS, Showtime and the BBC including the Oscar nominated, Long Night’s Journey Into Day and the Sundance Award winning film Sing Faster. Before beginning in film, Mylan worked with Ashoka, an international development nonprofit, in the U.S. and Brazil. She has a Bachelor’s from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Masters' degrees in Journalism and Latin American Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.

The work of G.S. Memorial hospital, featured in the film, is made possible by The Smile Train. The film’s release and community outreach will be used to build awareness and support for The Smile Train’s work. The Smile Train is the world’s leading cleft charity with thousands of partners and programs in 75 of the world’s poorest countries. Their mission is to help the more than 3 million children in developing countries who are suffering with unrepaired clefts. For as little as $250 and in as little as 45 minutes, they can provide cleft surgery that gives a child not just a new smile, but a new life. Since its beginning in 2000, The Smile Train has provided more than 309,000 free
surgeries for children who would otherwise never have received it.


  • featuring
  • filming location BANARAS UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA
  • director - producer MEGAN MYLAN
  • directors of photography NICK DOOB and JON SHENK
  • sound recordists GABE MONTS and MEGAN MYLAN
  • field producers NANDINI RAJWADE and GIRISH THAKUR
  • original music PRASANNA

Purcell Carson is a documentary filmmaker and editor. Her first feature project, Double Dare (Amanda Micheli, dir.) was broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens. She recently completed Beyond the Walls (Rachel Libert, dir.) and Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 (Ben Niles, dir.), which is screening theatrically before its national PBS television premiere. She is currently producing and directing Green Bananas, which explores the history and current stakes in the international banana business. Purcell studied literature and history at Brown University and received her Master’s from Stanford University’s Program in Documentary Film and Video.

NICK DOOB – director of photography

Nick Doob has been making movies since the early 70’s, acting as director, cinematographer and editor on numerous award-winning films, including three nominated for Academy Awards, and From Mao to Mozart which won. He recently completed a film about the dancers Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder. Doob co-directed Al Franken: God Spoke, Down from the Mountain, and Elaine Stritch at Liberty. Doob has shot with Pennebaker Hegedus Films on a number of documentaries, starting in 1973 with Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, as well as The War Room, Moon Over Broadway, and Only the Strong Survive.

JON SHENK – director of photography
Jon Shenk is a documentary filmmaker and cinematographer. His films include: the Emmy-nominated Lost Boys of Sudan; Democracy Afghan Style, a PBS/Arte film on the constitutional process in Afghanistan; The New Heroes, a PBS series on social entrepreneurs; and The Beginning about the making of Star Wars. Jon has photographed many documentaries for PBS, A&E, Bravo, MTV, CBS, NBC, the BBC and National Geographic.

NANDINI RAJWADE – field producer

Nandini Rajwade has worked as a journalist and documentary producer in her native India. She has a masters degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California at Berkeley.

 Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pinki’s tale fetches Oscar

Los Angeles: Smile Pinki, the tale of an Uttar Pradesh girl and her fight against the social stigma of a cleft lip, won the Oscar award for Best Documentary (Short). Directed by Emmy award-winning Megan Mylan, the film was shot in Mirzapur and Varanasi of Uttar Pradesh.

Elated at the victory, Mylan thanked the eight-year-old girl, who could not smile because of her cleft lip and was teased as ‘othkatti’ (one with a cut lip) for letting her tell her story.

Thank you, Pinki. Thank you for letting me tell your incredible story,” said Mylan while accepting the Oscar. – PTI
 Saturday 28 February 2009

My friends told me to return with an Oscar: Pinki

Madhur Tankha

With Smile Pinki winning honour, woes of cleft lip patients will receive global attention

Ecstatic: Pinki Sonkar at a function organised by Smile Train to felicitate her in New Delhi on Friday (Photo: Rajeev Bhatt )

NEW DELHI: “Before I left for the United States, my friends told me in Varanasi that I must return home with an Oscar. Now I have one,” an ecstatic Pinki Sonkar, holding a replica of the Oscar won by filmmaker Megan Mylan, said here on Friday.

Earlier in the day, little Pinki had a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur and shared her “red carpet” experience in Los Angeles with her. Ms. Kaur presented her a wristwatch and a bag of goodies. She was also treated to samosas and burfi.

The Prime Minister was, however, unable to meet Pinki as he was down with viral flu.

Happy homecoming

For Pinki, whose transformation from a cleft lip patient to a normal girl was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary Smile Pinki, it will be happy homecoming when she reaches Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh over the weekend.

At a press conference here, Pinki’s surgeon Subodh Kumar Singh, who accompanied her to the Oscars event, said it was a rare honour for him to be one of the subjects of Mylan’s documentary. “Mylan came to G.S. Memorial Plastic Surgery Centre in Varanasi to shoot the film. There was no narrative for us and unlike Slumdog Millionaire, the documentary was a real-life documentation of the lives of these children who suffer so much because of the deformity. The Oscar has strengthened my resolve to work hard with more passion and vigour and treat more and more patients. Four million cleft lip and palate patients are awaiting surgery in Asia.”

Pointing out that each surgery he performed was a modern-day medical miracle, Dr. Singh said that with Smile Pinki winning the highest honour, the complex problems of cleft patients would now receive international attention. “We want this recognition to generate more awareness of cleft lip and cleft palate so that more children would come forward for surgeries. The work of cleft charity, Smile Train, will hopefully change the lives of many other patients. The surgery gives these children not just a new smile but a second chance to lead their lives normally.”

Supporting education
Smile Train regional director (South Asia) Satish Kalra said: “Capturing the transformation in the life of Pinki, Smile Pinki sheds light on the global problem of cleft lip and cleft palate. But we cannot support her education as 10,000 cleft children will suffer. Smile Train only provides a level playing field to these children. We hope somebody comes forward and supports Pinki’s education.”

Before her surgery, the eight-year-old girl was not allowed to attend school and was ostracised because of her deformity.