Sandeep grew up in rural Malaysia and then in Kolkata. He received a scholarship to study at Hampshire College and moved to the United States. Mentored by Abraham Ravett and John Marshall in the 1990s, Sandeep started as a filmmaker, cutting his teeth freelancing commercially in Boston.
He became series editor and researcher on several longue durée projects – the !Kung ethnographic film archive; the educational outreach of National Geographic; and on a multi-year series for the Science Education Department at Harvard University. He went on to produce a diverse body of films in Kolkata, Aceh, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, the Timor border, Namibia and Greece. Of these, The Sound of Old Rooms, a 20-year collaborative coming-of-age story about a poet, won the Grand Prize at the Taiwan International Documentary Festival in 2012. In 2014, Thin Arms, a short on his mother’s cancer treatment won Best Director at the Dubai International Film Festival.
His documentaries have have been reviewed in the American Anthropologist, Visual Anthropology and have screened at several festivals including in Busan (BIFF), Taiwan (TIDF), Sydney, Paris (Jean Rouch), Tehran (IIFF), Copenhagen (DOX), and have curated at the Flaherty Seminar, the Films Division of India, and the Whitney and Getty Museums. A turn to academia led to an MA (Michigan) and a PhD (NUS) in History. After short appointments at the University of Wisconsin and at Rice University, Sandeep has been teaching at the Singapore University of Technology and Design since 2017 where he heads the Non-Fiction Film Lab.
He is the author of ‘A Flutter in the Colony’ (Harper Collins 2019) and ‘Celluloid Colony: Locating History and Ethnography in Early Dutch Colonial Films of Indonesia’ (NUS Press 2021).
His personal website can be accessed at sandeepray.com
- A Flutter in the Colony (Harper Collins 2019)
- Celluloid Colony: Locating History and Ethnography in Early Dutch Colonial Films of Indonesia (NUS Press 2021)