Born in India, filmmaker Mira Nair studied at the University of New Delhi before earning a degree in Sociology from Harvard in 1976. Based in New York City, she worked on her own independent short films, eventually winning the Best Documentary prize at the American Film Festival for India Cabaret, an investigation of Bombay's stripper subculture. In 1988, she made her feature-length narrative film debut with Salaam Bombay!, co-written by Sooni Taraporevala. An exploration of actual kids struggling to survive on the streets of Bombay, the film was nominated for Best Foreign Film by the Academy and won several festival awards, including the Camera d'Or at Cannes. In 1991, she teamed up with writing partner Taraporevala again for the romantic drama Mississippi Masala, about an Indian family moving from Uganda to the Southern U.S. to run a motel. Following the theme of immigration with her next film, The Perez Family featured a Cuban family moving to the States. In 1997, she took a brief turn toward historical epics with Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, set in 16th century India. Following the Showtime special My Own Country and the documentary short The Laughing Club of India, she made the international hit Monsoon Wedding. Focusing on an arranged marriage in New Delhi, the comedy drama won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and established Nair as an accomplished filmmaker. In 2002, she made a surprising turn to a New Jersey setting for the gritty HBO drama Hysterical Blindness, starring Uma Thurman, Juliette Lewis, Gena Rowlands. The same year she directed a segment of the French-produced anthology film 11'09"01, featuring short films from 11 international filmmakers in response to September 11. Along with teaching at Columbia University, Nair would next direct the film Vanity Fair, based on the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray and starring Reese Witherspoon.