Surbhi Dewan

Director & Producer at Painted Tree Pictures

Surbhi Dewan is a film director, writer & producer. Her independent documentary films explore intersections and overlaps between political conflict, gender, migration, memory and personhood. She uses a combination of live-action and animation techniques to create poetic, intimate and engaging narratives. She is deeply committed to presenting unique perspectives and humanizing ‘the other’ through her films.

Surbhi’s notable films include DAUGHTER OF NEPAL (2018) - the filmmaker unravels an incredible story of a friend who spent her childhood in exile during the People’s War in Nepal (winner of Best Documentary & Best Director Award at SPIFF; official selection at IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival, UK Asian Film Festival, IDSFFK and Oaxaca FilmFest 2019); and A THIN WALL (2015) - personal narratives from the partition of India, shot on both sides of the India-Pakistan border (winner of ‘Special Jury Prize’ at Amsterdam Film Festival; official selection at South Asian Film Festival of Montréal, New York Indian Film Festival, San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival, Seattle South Asian Film Festival 2015).

Surbhi has also produced award-winning social and commercial audio-visual content with her New Delhi-based production company, Painted Tree Pictures. She writes regularly for Inplainspeak, a digital magazine on sexuality in the Global South, and Women’s Web, a leading portal for Indian women. Surbhi is a member of the International Association of Women in Radio & Television, India chapter. She graduated with an MFA in film from Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, and received her BA degree in Political Science from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University.

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34 minutes; India & Nepal; 2018

Directed & Produced by: Surbhi Dewan

Presented by: Painted Tree Pictures

‘Daughter of Nepal’ is a poignant documentary that captures a rarely seen side of a revolutionary movement. The only daughter of two formidable political leaders of Nepal, Manushi Yami Bhattarai, was sent across the border as her parents prepared to go underground for a Peoples' War against the Nepalese monarchy.

Awarded BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM 1st PRIZE and BEST DIRECTOR DOCUMENTARY at the 7th Smita Patil International Film Festival, India in December 2018. Official Selection, 15th IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival 2019, India.

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Special Jury Prize at the Amsterdam Film Festival

Official Selection: 

Kolkata People's Film Festival 2018; The Irregular's Art Fair (Delhi) 2018; Mustard Seed Film Festival 2017; South Asian Film Festival of Montréal 2016; New York Indian Film Festival 2016; Fingerlakes Environmental Film Festival, New York 2016; Tasveer Reels, Seattle 2016; San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival 2015; Seattle South Asian Film Festival 2015; 3rd i Film Festival, San Francisco 2015; Bradford Literature Festival, UK 2015

Available on Amazon Instant Video (only in US & UK)


65 minutes; USA, India & Pakistan; 2015

Directed by: Mara Ahmed

Produced by: Surbhi Dewan & Mara Ahmed

Line Producer: Painted Tree Pictures

A THIN WALL is a documentary about memory, history and the possibility of reconciliation. It focuses on the Partition of India in 1947, but derives lessons that remain urgently relevant today. Shot on both sides of the border, in India and Pakistan, A THIN WALL is a personal take on Partition rooted in stories passed down from one generation to another. It is written and directed by Mara Ahmed and co-produced by Surbhi Dewan. Both filmmakers are descendants of families torn apart by Partition. The film is also a work of art infused with original animation, music and literary writing.

A THIN WALL is now available for streaming in the US, the UK and the rest of the world.

The film is also available on DVD in India here.

To host a screening, contact us at

Zindagi Bitani (music video)

Produced by Painted Tree Pictures in collaboration with SPACE 

Directed by: Surbhi Dewan

A Punjabi song addressing issues of child marriage and forced marriage. The music video was shot in rural Haryana with non-actors. 

Stillness of Clay

Client: Ambarka Studios

Directed by: Surbhi Dewan

Part of a series of promotional videos for Ambarka Studio's new pottery workshops for adults.

One Day on Earth: The Herbal Healers (UNDP)

Client: RedDot Productions (NDTV)

Producer: Surbhi Dewan

The Chhattisgarh Medicinal Board, supported by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and UNDP, initiated a project, funded by the Global Environment Facility, to promote long-term conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants.

Let Them Touch The Sky (SMILE Foundation)

Client: RedDot Productions (NDTV)

Associate Producer: Surbhi Dewan

A 15-part short doc series about underprivileged

girls fighting to get an education; aired on NDTV India.

Season 3 of an award-winning series of

short documentaries called 'Choone Do Aasman'.

Time Will Tell

Duration: 14 mins

Language: Russian, Italian, Spanish

Directed by: Surbhi Dewan


A poetic glimpse into the lives of international students in America.

The film is about three international students in an American university who experience isolation, and nostalgia for their far away homes. Intimate memories, poetry, and their native languages come together to create a canvas of personal pain in the 'land of opportunity'.

There are millions of migrants entering the borders of America for education and work opportunities every year. They are often looked upon with suspicion or contempt. Dewan’s Time Will Tell performs the crucial task of exposing the other side of the story by giving a voice to the painful experience of leaving home.

Best Documentary Award – Chennai Shorts Global Film Festival 2012; Special Festival Mention – Bangalore Shorts Film Festival 2012; 3rd Prize, Best Film, Shot Too Short Digital Film Festival 2011; Trans-ideology: Nostalgia’, Transartfest Biennale, Berlin, 2013; Anthology Film Archives, NYC, 2011; Siouxland Film Festival, Utah, 2010; Festival of Migrant Films, Slovenia, 2013; NYC Filmmaker's Film Festival 2011; Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, Ohio 2011; Twilight Film Festival, India 2010; Seven Island's International Film Festival, Chennai 2012; High Falls International Film Festival 2009

Soul Shoes

Duration: 10 mins

Directed by: Surbhi Dewan

A woman in love with shoes, life and herself. Rosemarie Mohamed, owner of a vintage shoe shop in Berlin, comes to life in this humorous and poignant piece.