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DETERMINISM: The no budget crime epic directed by Ranju & Sanjit Majumdar

A taut story about the dark side of friendship, the ultra low budget feature, DETERMINISM, is set in a racially charged fictional college town in Pennsylvania, where students and drug dealers are often one and the same.

Alec, the film’s anti-hero, is an alienated South Asian. He’s always been an outsider, and he certainly doesn’t fit in www.determinismthemovie.comhere. New York is his Mecca. Tristan, his former best friend and a reformed cokehead, is a white guy, living with Alec’s ex-girlfriend, the beautiful, black Lynn. Tristan thinks he’s got it made.

Broke and cut off from his family after he flunks out of school, Alec sets off to free himself from the stereotypical role of “South Asian Geek” imposed upon him from birth. So opposed to typecasting that he can barely use a computer, he is determined to transcend Determinism — by any means necessary.

Guns and gangstas have an allure that Alec can almost taste. Taking on the gangsta mantel, Alec convinces Tristan to be his lookout when he robs a local drug dealer. The winnings are Alec’s ticket to New York, where he can start afresh and live in a world where color is no barrier.

What seems like a simple heist inadvertently turns into a spiraling bloodbath — and way more than Alec had bargained for. But Alec’s manic obsession keeps him in the game. No matter what goes down, he’s not leaving town without his money.

The filmmakers knew the look and sound of the film before they began principal photography. A major challenge in creating that feel — a thick atmosphere reflecting the desperation of the central characters — was sticking to fluid and carefully composed camerawork for a guerrilla-style production. The Majumdar twins went for an expressionistic visual mode: spare production design, panoramic wide shots, and high contrast lighting were used to create oppressive, lifeless vistas of the fictitious town Narakaville.

The film is grounded in the Majumdars’ sound design, an original dissonant music score, and a cinematic approach inspired by the timeless dark aesthetic of German expressionism. Motifs of college students walking uniformly through campus, spare indistinguishable locations—sterile cookie-cutter apartments within indistinguishable cookie-cutter housing complexes — the overriding atmosphere of isolation, claustrophobia, rigid conformity: a metaphor for modern purgatory. Narakaville reflects the prison Alec must bust out to find his spirit.

Who are Ranju & Sanjit Majumdar?

The 24-year-old identical twin brothers Sanjit and Ranju Majumdar were born in Queens to South Asian immigrant parents (father Bangladeshi, mother Indian) and raised in Pompton Lakes, a small, white, working-class town in New Jersey.

In high school, they began making short films and at 16 embarked on their first feature-length production, AN OPTIMISTIC PERSPECTIVE. Two years later, AN OPTIMISTIC PERSPECTIVE (and their whimsical animated short, BOWLING FOR A DREAM) premiered in the Official Selection of the 2004 Lake Placid Film Festival on the very same day as their senior prom. No question, they skipped the prom in favor of attending their first film festival.

Months later, while in their freshman year at Penn State University, the twins participated in the 2005 Berlinale Talent Campus. They waited until the school break, summer of 2005, to begin developing DETERMINISM, which was scripted, shot, and edited during stolen hours while working toward their degrees in New Media. They graduated Summer 2009.

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