Bay Area Filmmaker Tells Story of Silicon Valley Struggles
“The Valley,” a film by Silicon Valley filmmaker Saila Kariat, will screen in 10 U.S. cities, including San Francisco, between June 8 and June 15. It will also screen in Palo Alto on June 11 and June 12.
The film follows the story of an Indian American entrepreneur and his family following his daughter’s suicide. He debarks on what Kariat describes as “an excruciating journey” to find out what happened. Throughout the film, Kariat says, he is always trying to find “that magic bullet,” but ultimately, he doesn’t find what he is looking for because his daughter’s suicide was caused by depression.
Kariat says she really wanted to bring out the issues of depression and anxiety in the film, because they are growing problems in American society. Thirty-five percent of college students are suffering from depression or anxiety, she says, and suicide has surpassed homicide as the second leading cause of death among young adults ages 18 to 25. She doesn’t believe there is one single reason for it, though pressure to succeed and growing social media both play a role. Social media in particular can lead to a growing sense of disconnection from others. “It seems like people have two personas,” says Kariat. “Their public persona that’s on Facebook and their private persona that’s who they really are, and there’s a growing gap.” People end up thinking they’re the only ones who are having trouble, when it’s not the case at all.
Saila Kariat began her career as an engineer in Silicon Valley, which helped her understand the high-pressure environment of that career and of Silicon Valley. She believes successful people—like many of the people in Silicon Valley—are more likely to put pressure on their children because they know how much work it takes to succeed. They want their own children to work hard so they will be able to succeed, as well. Certain careers are also more encouraged than others. Though filmmaking has always been a part of her, Kariat didn’t begin her career in it because it’s not considered a “safe” profession, especially in immigrant families like hers. She eventually went back to San Jose State University to earn a degree in filmmaking. That helped pave the way to her current film. “The Valley” has been nominated for 19 awards and has won 11.