New SHSU Film Professor Qualified for the Academy Awards

Courtesy of Sachin Mudigonda

People worldwide are waiting for the 2023 Academy Awards nominations to be announced. One of those people is Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda, who recently joined the Sam Houston State University staff as an Assistant Professor in the Mass Communications Department.

His pre-thesis film “Testimony of Ana” has been selected for nomination for the 95th Academy Awards in the Best Documentary Short Film category. After winning the Best Short Documentary Award at the 13th International Documentary & Short Film Festival of Kerala in India, the film qualified for the Oscars.  

The story is about Anaben Pawar, an older woman accused of witchcraft in rural India.

It’s 24-minute short documentary details the account of Ana, one of the few survivors of “Witch-Hunt” attacks in rural Gujarat, India.

Through faith and perseverance, she remained and refused to be driven from her home despite numerous beatings.    

Courtesy of Sachin Mudigonda

“I think people need to hear her voice, and that’s why I thought making this film would be important. Not just for her or me, but for everyone to acknowledge these kinds of atrocities are happening in the 21st century,” said Professor Mudigonda.

Every year 80 to 120 short documentary films qualify for nomination. Then mid-December, the Oscar Short List of the remaining 10 to 15 films is released.

Then the final nominations are announced in the January to February timeframe.  

Ana’s story circulated worldwide, showing at 15 film festivals and earning five awards. Her voice tells her story. Her voice is heard by people worldwide that might have gone unheard if not for this student documentary.  

Professor Mudigonda plans on incorporating the knowledge he has gained from producing this film as a student to Oscar qualification in his teachings. He is now waiting to see if “Testimony of Ana” will be nominated for an Oscar, continuing the learning experience.

“All I’m doing as a filmmaker is expressing solidarity through cinema. I think that is important to me as a filmmaker,” said Professor Mudigonda. “There is a space for filmmakers to make cinema about lesser-known people, ordinary people, about people on the street whose stories we acknowledge but tend to be ignored.”

He hopes to encourage Sam Houston students to make films with complete honesty and effort. To make films not just to be able to pass a class but to embrace the transformative and educational aspects that come along with making a film.

“I also want to pass on whatever little knowledge I have gained… There is definitely a huge amount of impact teaching, which is what I believe in,” said Professor Mudigonda.

For more information about “Testimony of Ana” and viewing options, go to

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