Path-breaking film to explore transgender experience in India

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Ek Asha (A Hope) will follow a transwoman on her journey to become a teacher in modern-day India. But director Mayur Katariya and his team of Indian and Australian filmmakers need $AUD76,000 to make the film a reality

The Indian transgender community is rarely explored in entertainment. Filmmaker Mayur Katariya’s latest feature-length project aims to put the transgender experience front and centre, to educate the wider community, and to support Indian youth struggling to express their gender identity.

The film titled Ek Asha (A Hope) will follow a transwoman on her journey to become a teacher in modern-day India. The story will show transgender people going after and achieving their dreams, despite discrimination.

Mayur says he was inspired by a group of transwomen in his hometown of Surat, India, who he met in 2016 for a short documentary project. Their stories, hardships, and moments of strength will animate the film, adding a vital dimension of authenticity to the final product.

Importantly, the film’s transgender characters will be played by transgender actors and non-actors.

Mayur believes the film will result in greater awareness, understanding, and eventually acceptance for ‘Hijra’ members—the Indian word for the transwomen community. “I would love for young people in India who are questioning their gender identity to watch my film and learn that they can also pursue their dreams,” he writes. “I believe with greater understanding and acceptance from their families and society, transgender people will have more opportunities in a new India and modern world.”

Mayur and his team of Indian and Australian filmmakers require a total of $AUD76,000 to make their film a reality. To date, fundraising efforts have raised a huge $AUD26,000. Katariya has opened a crowdfunding campaign to help raise the remaining $AUD50,000.

All the donated funds will go toward the making of the film: paying for actors, crew members, post-production, equipment, accommodation, transportation, and insurance and legal fees.

Since promoting the campaign, professional and indie filmmakers from India have expressed their heartfelt support for Mayur’s project.

When fundraising is complete, the film will be made in a tight 40-day shoot. The final cut should be complete by March 2018, ready to be sent to national and international film festivals. In 2019, Mayur plans to release the film through theatres and/or digital platforms.

This will be Mayur’s first feature-length project, but with ten short films and two music videos worth of experience and a significant cause to support, he is confident in his filmmaking abilities.

An estimated 3 to 4 million transgender people live in India, more than the entire population of Singapore. Widespread acceptance and support is vital in the fight to protect the rights and well being of this community. Indian actress and civil rights activist Nandana Dev Sen recognises the growing importance of trans-awareness in India. “There is huge discrimination and persecution, as well as sexual violence,” she writes.

Any positive impact—however small—on the transgender community in India could result is safer conditions for transpeople in the surrounding countries of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal. Katariya and Dev Sen believe that this film project has the capacity to impact the lives of transpeople across the region.

“The screenplay sounds unique, fresh, and powerful,” Nandana writes, noting the film’s potential to screen at film festivals and in art-house cinemas. “If made into a splendid film, it could be a path-breaking and defining film for the LGBTQ community.”

Sydney-based screenplay writer and script consultant Chryssy Tintner holds Mayur’s script in a very high regard. “A fresh and unique coming of age story, Ek Asha presents the transgender journey of protagonist Asha as a social drama. With skilfully drawn characters and atmospheric locations, this could potentially develop into a charming and socially important cautionary tale for Indian cinema. Given appropriate subtitles, Ek Asha is likely to have strong appeal for the global LGBTQ circuit. It is a clear candidate for festival entry and arthouse release, both within India and for international audiences,” says Tintner.

If you would like to show your support for the transgender community, you can donate to Mayur’s crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo. There are some fantastic perks to be claimed for as little as $AUD5, including a digital download of the finished film and even a private screening.

Every donation will help Mayur share the Indian transwoman experience to the wider Indian community, and to the world.

Contact: ekasha.film@gmail.com, +61 401 888 437

YouTube: https://youtu.be/94-ZbBo8sKA

Indie GoGo: Please read, share and or support Ek Asha Crowd Funding campaign on Indie GoGo https://igg.me/at/trans-india/x/15939312

Milaap: There is also a crowd funding campaign via Milaap for those in India who wish to support through an Indian crowd funding platform, again ANY size of contribution is most welcome. https://milaap.org/fundraisers/ekaasha

Facebook: www.facebook.com/filmahope/

 

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