Watch the Trailer
Not in the mood to read? Why not watch our new trailer instead!
With a brand-new soundtrack which includes music by John Plenge.
A Big “Thank You” & Some Exciting News
First of all, we want to thank everyone who responded to our last e-mail. We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. We raised $3,600 and numerous people volunteered their time and services. We are deeply moved by your generosity. Every penny is essential for the successful completion of this film. As you may have noticed, however, we did not launch the August fundraising campaign we had announced in our last e-mail. This is because of some very exciting news…
Over the summer we learned that we had been awarded a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts (all the more amazing given the huge cutbacks in state funding for the arts!) and were also one of only seven non-Korean films selected for the Pusan International Film Festival’s (PIFF) Asian Documentary Network which includes a small cash award. Between your donations and these two awards, we now are closer to our goal of scoring the soundtrack, cutting the final edit, and post-producing in a world-class studio. Of course this wouldn’t be possible if people weren’t extremely generous with their time. We would especially like to acknowledge the contribution of Daniel Kent, a sound designer based in Montreal who is doing the sound design and mix for the film, free of charge. Valerie Keller has come on board the project as an editing consultant. Valerie has over twenty years of experience editing documentaries, and is providing valuable assistance and feedback from Philadelphia. And we are very grateful for the continued support of our executive producer, Kurt Engfehr.
We are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We will still need to raise money to submit the film to festivals and pay for travel to the festivals we get into, but we are going to wait to see how much money we can save before we begin fundraising for that stage of the project. We are, however, soliciting unused frequent flier miles to cover our travel expenses. (See below for more information.)
Pusan International Film Festival
Even more important than the money and prestige associated with being included in the PIFF Asian Documentary Network is the event itself. From Sunday through Tuesday we will join the six other Asian documentary filmmakers and four Korean filmmakers for a series of workshops with some of the leading people in the Asian and European documentary film world, followed by one-on-one meetings with potential co-producers and distributors. Even if nothing concrete comes out of this, it will be an incredible learning and networking experience.
So when will the film itself be done? We will start sending the film off to film festivals in November. But a documentary film is never really done. In addition to the festival cut we are working on a shorter TV-length version, and if we land a co-production deal we might even go back and shoot additional footage. But we are really happy with where the film is now. After years of struggling we finally cut the two-hundred plus hours down to a coherent feature-length narrative with a compelling story. Of course, a lot of good stuff ended up on the cutting-room floor, and we are already talking about turning some of that into another short movie… but that’s another story!
We received a lot of help this summer from Nishit Jadawala, an experienced Indian film editor who we were able to bring to Taiwan from India with the help of your generous donations. Because of language issues, it was just not possible to find a suitable assistant here in Taiwan, and Nishit has worked closely with the Chhara community, including editing Dakxin Bajrange’s excellent film “The Lost Water.” It was his first visit to East Asia, and his grandmother wanted to fill his suitcase with the kinds of food Gujarati merchants take on long trips, but Nishit quickly learned the joys of cold sesame noodles and bubble milk tea. More importantly, with an extra set of eyes and hands we were able to make significant progress on the film.
Our Trip to Chharanagar
Back in January we brought the latest rough cut of the film to Chharanagar. There we showed it to an audience made up of Budhan Theatre members and their families. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Hardika, the young girl whose photo graces the Vimukta.org website, came up to us afterwards and told us that nobody had captured the struggles of their community with such sensitivity. Those kind words are more than enough reward for these past five years of hard work! We were also relieved that apart from a few minor changes, the community did not object to any of the content. The film does not shy away from problems within the community, and we had been nervous about their reactions to how we depicted those issues.
While we were there we also did a test run of a project we would like to do once the film is done. We went with Budhan Theatre members to some other DNT communities and showed the film followed by a group discussion about DNT issues. We traveled to a Madari (snake charmer) community in Lunawada, Gujarat and a Nat village in the district. The trip offered us a glimpse into the diverse issues facing these other communities. When our DVD failed to play in one village, the Budhan Theatre members accompanying us related the film to the community in a brilliant oral narrative we wish we had caught on tape. The Madaris, who used to make a living through snake charming and magic, are increasingly having difficulty with the police who now require them to have a license to perform in public, whereas the people in the Nat village we visited were doing much better, having some of their own land to fall back on when not working as acrobats and musicians. We hope that once the film is done we can do more visits like this to DNT communities throughout India.
Miles To Fly Before We Sleep
We should be OK to finish post-production of the film, but the next step is to get it in front of the viewing public. In order to do that we have to do a lot of traveling to film festivals and film markets trying as hard as possible to promote the film. Because travel to the US and Europe is so expensive from Taiwan we need your help. If you have unused frequent flier miles please e-mail us and we’ll tell you how you can donate those to the film.
Of course, cold, hard cash is always appreciated as well. Even $20 is a big help. Please click the link below, or go to our website and visit the support page (where you can find other options, including a PayPal link for those outside the US).
And you can also donate your time to supporting the film. We will need help translating the subtitles into multiple languages, and help promoting the film online. Anyone who would like to help out is encouraged to contact us.
Thank you so much for your support!
Kerim & Shashwati