Send Abhineet to his Dream School

My younger brother, Abhineet, and I have always shared a special bond. I remember holding him as a baby and being filled with a sense of responsibility - I had to be the best big brother I could possibly be.

As he grew up, he demonstrated a flair for creativity that once made me - his nerdy, analytically-minded older brother - more than a little jealous. As much as I enjoyed music, I couldn’t play the guitar like him. As much as I loved movies, I simply didn’t have his eye and natural understanding of filmmaking.

Today, however, that feeling has faded and turned into a sense of genuine pride. Abhineet took his passion for filmmaking and ran with it, and his raw talent has gotten him accepted into some of the best film schools in the world: American Film Institute (AFI), Columbia University, and California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Some notable alumni include Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan & Requiem for a Dream), Jennifer Lee (Frozen & Zootopia), and Tim Burton (Corpse Bride & The Nightmare Before Christmas). These schools have produced some of the most famous filmmakers of our generation and can make dreams come true, literally and figuratively.

Unfortunately, the cost of attendance for these programs is pretty steep. Columbia University, his top choice, recognized his potential and awarded him $20,000 in annually renewing scholarship, an amount that very high for a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. But, it still leaves a wide margin for us as a family to cover, about $85,000 in tuition expense over two years. Loans are not a possibility because, as an international student, he doesn't qualify for US Federal loans and private banks require a US-cosigner. I'd gladly co-sign, but my own student debt makes me practically ineligible.

As the responsible older brother, I wrestled with the issue: “Is this even worth it?” I questioned. “If you spend that much on school, why not go for something more stable like finance, or law?” All those doubts went away when he graduated at the top of his class at Colby-Sawyer College, and his films gained traction and earned accolades at film festivals worldwide. In total, his films have been accepted to 7 film festivals around the globe. I am including a showreel of his films below, of which my favorite is a documentary he made on the earthquake that rocked Nepal in 2015, taking 9,000 lives and causing billions in damages.

Simply put, the world needs people like my brother to tell the stories of those whose voices are otherwise unheard, or worse, silenced entirely. He wants to go to film school so he can more effectively share the trials and tribulations of everyday people, and turn their seemingly ordinary lives into an extraordinary work of cinema. I know that it’s a lot of money to ask for, but each donation - any amount at all - adds up.

This was the last time I saw Abhineet in person, almost a year ago. I was dropping him off at the airport and saying goodbye with puffy eyes, telling him that I will do whatever it takes to bring him back to the United States to attend film school. This fundraiser is me trying to fulfill my promise to him.

The poet Yeats once said, “But I, being poor, have only my dreams.”

I hope you’ll help me turn my brother’s dreams into reality.

Thank you.


Abhishek Kumar
Naperville, IL

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