Not many 17-year-olds can say they beat an Academy Award-winning director at their own game, but that’s just one of the claims advertising student Radheya Jegatheva can put his name to with his award-winning short film, Journey.
To date, the seven-minute animated short, which follows a stranded astronaut who embarks on an epic voyage through space to find Earth, has won a total of 22 film festival awards in countries including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Montenegro, Nigeria, Russia, UK and US.
Last year, Jegatheva stunned judges and audiences alike when Journey was selected as the winner of the 2016 Port Shorts Open Filmmaker Awards, beating a submission by American director Patrick Osborne, whose previous film had won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
“I was really shocked. I feel like it still isn’t real. But it’s encouraging to know the impossible is possible and that all those months of hard work were worth it,” says Jegatheva.
Recently, Jegatheva was able to attend his first overseas film festival in person, after being offered a paid trip to the 2017 George Lindsey UNA Film Festival in Alabama.
While Jegatheva ended up taking out the Golden Lion Award in the festival’s youth category, he stresses that the best part wasn’t winning or even watching a screening of his film – it was getting the chance to meet more members of his community.
“Just being able to meet all these amazing dreamers out there, see their work, hear their advice and know where film took them is really inspiring. I really look up to them,” says Jegatheva.
The astonishing reception to the film has been a long time coming for Jegatheva, whose desire to ‘make a film about space’ saw him dedicate years to animating the characters and backgrounds, composing the music and editing the scenes in his bedroom.
“My dad used to take me to the Gravity Discovery Centre in Gingin [a few hours drive from Perth]. I guess that really catalysed my interest in ‘the universe’,” he jokes.
“With Journey, I wanted to tap into the intrinsic nature humans have to find home, which is something anyone can relate to. I think the lack of dialogue also helps, because it’s able to transcend the language barrier. I think that’s why it has done well in non-English speaking countries.”
Now, Jegatheva is embarking on his own exciting journey by studying advertising at Curtin, which he hopes will help position him for a strong career in business, but he’s adamant that film will forever remain a part of his life.
“I’m going to concentrate on my studies and film at the same time and see where it leads me,” says Jegatheva.
Check out a trailer of Journey below: