We are brothers Yugesh & Sunandan Walia. We began writing, producing and directing short fiction films in the early 80s funded by West Midlands Arts, the Arts Council of Great Britain and the Birmingham Film & Video Workshop, which was at the forefront of Britain’s independent film-making movement of the time. Our films were selected for screening at the prestigious Edinburgh and London International Film Festivals and received very positive reviews: “Mirror Mirror, the first film to emerge from the Asian community is a triumph ….. one of the best and most prescient British films of the year”. (Festival Review). The film was snapped up for transmission by Channel 4, at the time the new kid on the block.
Soon we were making documentaries for independent production companies for broadcast on all the networks. Yugesh also became a regular director at Central Television. In 1985 we set up our own company in Birmingham and named it Endboard - inspired by the fact that we preferred to mark takes at the end as opposed to the beginning, much to the irritation of the person who had to do the synching up!
Our first television commission came very quickly from Channel 4: A 4-part series called Make Your Own Video, presented by none other than Anna Soubry.
THE BREAKTHROUGH WITH DOCUMENTARIES
The series set us up in good stead. We began specialising in single documentaries as we gradually found our voice and our passion for character-driven stories. Our big break came with a commission to make a film for the 40 Minutes strand on BBC2. This was the BBC’s flagship documentary strand and our film for it, Many Happy Returns, telling stories of two children who believed they died horrible deaths and were born again, was a huge success, becoming the highest rated documentary on any channel that year - (“Sunandan and Yugesh Walia’s stylish meditation on what-might-be brings intelligence to a tabloid-dominated topic .... and applause for the editing that dazzles."
– The Independent).
We began telling stories from different parts of the world. From the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos to chemical plants known locally as ‘death valley’ near Sau Paulo.
Another of our BBC documentaries, Seoul Mates, about love across the cultural divide between American soldiers and South Korean women in Seoul, has been sold to over 40 territories worldwide. Working with ITV we produced several current affairs documentaries, most notably Bhopal - The Second Tragedy with the celebrated journalist, Sir Mark Tully, who we enticed away from the BBC to ITV. The film won the Silver Medal at Prix Leonardo in Italy. (“Mark Tully, making a welcome return to our screens, doesn’t pull any punches...” – The Guardian).
Later credits include a feature documentary for Channel 4, Days And Nights In An Indian Jail, which also received an official selection at the London International Film Festival - - “The pressures of Tihar Jail and its sometimes brutal and yet occasionally exemplary regime, are skilfully captured in this heart-rending film.” (Festival Review).
During the 1990s and 2000s we worked very closely with the Asian Programmes Unit within the BBC. Sunandan was appointed Series Producer to manage the Unit’s current affairs strand, East, on BBC2 for three seasons. In this position he oversaw 30 documentaries and during which time the series won an RTS (Midlands) Award and the Platinum Award at the WorldFest in Huston.
THE MOVE INTO DRAMA
Recently we decided to return to the world of fiction storytelling and so began spearheading an ambitious move into long form drama. Several screenplays are at various stages of development.
As part of this development, Sunandan became a EAVE graduate (a European producers training programme) and we were named BREAKTHROUGH BRITS by the UK Film Council, having been nominated for this honour by veteran producer Tony Garnett (Cathy Come Home, Kes, This Life). Take a look here.