Saund vs Cochran

: Documentary
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Development


A dramatic and groundbreaking congressional campaign in 1956 that electrified California and sparked local debate and national conversations about ethnicity, xenophobia, gender, celebrity, political representation, and inclusion.




In 1956, Dalip Singh Saund (D), a local judge and recently naturalized U.S. citizen of Indian descent, campaigned against Jackie Cochran Odlum (R), an aviation pioneer, celebrated WWII pilot, and owner of a cosmetics empire, in a run for Congress in California’s 29th District. While Cochran had unlimited resources and Presidential support, Saund’s grassroots, family-led voter registration drive targeted a changing demographic and led to a narrow and unexpected 3,300-vote victory, making him the first-ever Asian member of the U.S. Congress.


The film is about the first Asian American elected to serve in the U.S. Congress and about a female aviation pioneer who broke barriers in the air and in the political arena. A nonpartisan perspective on this surprisingly undertold story will highlight the process by which democracy works and evolves, the power of coalition politics and voter registration, and the intersection of varied considerations of ethnicity, gender, wealth and belonging as we consider how to vote in 2024.


Mridu Chandra - Director / Producer

Mridu Chandra  is a New York-based filmmaker and veteran producer of award-winning documentaries and narrative films. Born in India and raised in Virginia, USA she has over two decades of experience in film and television production across a wide range of budgets and producing roles including story development and writing, archival producing, delivery, and distribution. Recent films include producing the British Academy Award nominated documentary BECOMING COUSTEAU directed by two-time Oscar nominee Liz Garbus and co-producing CURED directed by Bennett Singer and Patrick Sammon. On the scripted side, she has worked with Academy-Award®-winning directors Ang Lee and Danny Boyle and on the early independent films of directors Nisha Ganatra, Laura Terruso, and Rafael Monserrate, among others. From 2016 to 2019, she was the founding director of IF/Then Shorts at Tribeca Film Institute, where she designed and managed a new film fund and distribution initiative to support the professional development and increased visibility of underrepresented filmmakers. Her films have premiered at Sundance, Telluride, and SXSW, aired on PBS, Disney+, and Netflix, and have screened for members of U.S. Congress and the U.N. 


Connect With The Filmmakers:


The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2022
ITVS HDDF Fellowship 2022
California Humanities R&D Grant


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