From network television to independent films to new media, Sharat Raju is a versatile writer and director whose work has earned more than twenty international awards and continues to entertain and enlighten audiences throughout the world.
Sharat’s journey as a filmmaker began on the outskirts of Chicago, the first American-born son to Indian parents. A descendant of poets and artists, he was raised in a family and culture with a rich storytelling tradition. Sharat wrote at an early age which continued at the University of Michigan where he received national awards for his work as a journalist at The Michigan Daily and graduated with a degree in English.
After a brief stint as a
In 2001, Sharat was accepted into the American Film Institute’s renowned Directing program where he honed his skills as a visual storyteller and director. There he received the highest honors conferred upon AFI's graduates after creating an acclaimed Masters thesis film, American Made.
American Made quickly became a phenomenon. The film earned seventeen awards as it tore through the international film festival circuit in 2004 and was acquired for national broadcast on PBS’s Emmy Award-winning program “Independent Lens” where it aired for four years.
Sharat followed up his thesis short by directing and producing a
grassroots independent film that has similarly made its mark around the
world – Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath. Divided We Fall
is the first documentary feature to chronicle the rise in hate-crimes
and race-related abuse in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001.
Demand for the film sparked international demand for several years after it was released in 2006. Colleges, universities and community
groups continue to showcase Divided We Fall as a hopeful and uplifting exploration of America’s racial and religious diversity.
In 2010, Sharat helped create the Yale Visual Law Project – an initiative at Yale Law School
that brings together documentary filmmaking and legal scholarship. With producing partner Valarie Kaur, he co-led VLP as a Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project, where he trained law students how to
communicate a story through the visual medium. They produced three documentaries in two years and VLP continues to produce documentaries as part of Yale Law School.
Sharat wrote, directed, co-produced and edited an episode for the PBS-funded pioneering FutureStates web series entitled Worker Drone. The science fiction short film required Sharat to coordinate production and visual effects work between six cities in three countries and premiered in the second season of the series.
While working as a writer, director and documentary filmmaker, Sharat was selected as a Directing Fellow at ABC (2008), NBC (2013) and Sony Pictures (2014) where he shadowed on television shows and learned the ins and outs of TV production.
Along the way, Sharat has directed promotional work for social
justice organizations as well as music videos and shorts. His scripts The Field on the Corner, Sacred Grounds, and The Infected are in development with producers. He lives in the Los Angeles area.