On The Cusp, Longlist - Personal

Gladiators on Wheels

Souvid Datta


In remote rural festivals all around India the 'Well of Death' has been a long-notorious attraction - where for £0.50p per ticket, you can see stunt drivers rocket in circles across 60ft walls, throwing caution to the wind and defying gravity. "Gladiators on Wheels" is an experimental documentary short made over a one day shoot in West Bengal's Poush Mela, where as a I child grew up in awe of these riders. Returning to visit them, I discovered their story for the first time. Interviews were edited and adapted collaboratively with the riders and voiced by local actors.

Souvid Datta is an emerging director, screenwriter, and photographer. Spanning both documentary and narrative worlds, his award-winning work explores humanism and systems of power. Born in Mumbai and raised in London, his pursuit of impact storytelling has earned recognitions such as IMDb New Filmmaker of the Year, a Cannes Young Director Award nomination, landed him on the Vogue India 20 Under 26 list and won Best Documentary at Cannes Short Film Festival. Human stories are the heart of Souvid’s work, investigating issues like social justice, human rights, the environment and culture and taking him to over 60 countries. From the frontlines of the Syrian refugee crisis, to the bustling metropolises of East Africa, in the shadow of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, to environmental hotspots across China and South Asia, Souvid has produced multimedia reports, films and commercials for clients including Google, National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, Universal Music Group, BBC Studios, TIME and The Guardian. As a photographer, he’s shot editorials and reportage features all over the world, from Kenya to Kathmandu, with exhibitions in London’s Saatchi Gallery, the Houses of Parliament, the Indian Alliance Congress, Royal Geographic Society & Bibliotheque National de France. He’s the writer of four short films, and his latest drama, Moonlight Dreams has been selected in several Oscar and Bafta-qualifying festivals, premiering in the UK at Raindance 2020. Most recently, he wrote narrative series, F*ckbois, a 6 episode 30min comedy-drama exploring masculinity and mental health. And his debut feature film, a present-day sci-fi-drama set in East Africa is currently in development. In fact, his next documentary feature project is currently in development with BFI and Creative England support at Singer Films. He also works often as a self-shooting producer/director for broadcast, including for Lost Musicians of India, a 6-part documentary series for Channel 4, and second-unit director for BBC4's Rhythms of India (2019). Souvid’s aim is to continue creating cinematic stories that foster empathy and challenge minds.