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£4,570
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The project's funding goal was not reached on Mon, December 3 2018 12:00 AM UTC +00:00
Penbryn FilmsBy Penbryn Films
First created
Penbryn FilmsBy Penbryn Films
First created
£4,570
pledged of £30,000pledged of £30,000 goal
48
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Mon, December 3 2018 12:00 AM UTC +00:00

About

If you want to reach out across the artificial barriers that divide us from our fellow human beings... if you want to embrace those who struggle for their rights, their dignity, who have to fight for their place in the world… then this film is for you...

HIJRA

 “HIJRA” is an up-close-and-personal chronicle of the lives, the struggles, the hardships - and the occasional triumphs - of an amazing group of transgender people in India; a group fighting for the right to define who they are, and not have their lives defined for them.

Rudrani Chettri
Rudrani Chettri

At the emotional heart of this self-created family is Rudrani Chettri - a brave, funny, empathetic heroine, holding her adopted sisters together with her ferocious love, her unbreakable determination, and her warrior spirit. 

This is Rudrani’s story; the story of her fellow transgender people, and their collective fight to change the way the world sees them. HIJRA has secured seed funding and support from Ffilm Cymru Wales, Scottish Documentary Institute and Freakfilms based in Scotland. 

 Now, at a time of great flux for both the Indian and the International transgender community, we need YOUR help to continue filming. 

Our Team:

 Ila Mehrotra has worked extensively in British television with all the leading broadcasters like BBC, Channel4 and ITV and this is her directorial debut with a feature documentary. The project was developed from the start with Producer Andrew Smith, a 2 time Emmy Award winning and BAFTA nominated Director/Producer with a very rich experience in filmmaking.

Director, Ila Mehrotra
Director, Ila Mehrotra

Sonja Henrici is the co-director of Scottish Documentary Institute, she's an international BAFTA nominated producer of multiple award-winning international feature documentaries including: TIME TRIAL (2017), DONKEYOTE (2017), SEVEN SONGS FOR A LONG LIFE (2015). Rebecca Day works on a diverse variety of projects, and she is producer of two feature documentaries, BECOMING ANIMAL, a Scottish/Swiss co-production directed by Emma Davie and Peter Mettler (released in 2018), and SILENT MEN with Duncan Cowles (in development).

We are also joined on our team by leading activists from the international trans community to help us shape the tone of the film. We have Shash Appan from Glitter Cymru and Fox & Owl Fisher who are filmmakers and amazing outspoken activists here in Britain. We are actively seeking more advisors to support us in our journey.




WHY I’M MAKING “HIJRA”

My name is Ila Mehrotra; and three years ago, I realised that I had never properly spoken with a transgender person in the city where I grew up, Delhi – when, all the while I was surrounded by LGBTQ+ friends in UK. 

For most Indians, transgender people – known as hijras – are elusive, quite frightening figures, surrounded in mystery and tall tales. They live invisible lives, separated by social boundaries formed over centuries of stereotypes and prejudices.



The traditional Indian belief is that hijras are somehow sacred, able to bestow fertility and bring good luck or bad, as the “holy hermaphrodites” of Hindu sacred texts. And yet growing up I was also warned to beware of them because hijras are also seen as a source of shame, and almost untouchable.



It’s a strange paradox – to be seen as holy – but also profane, and to be avoided. 

But three years ago, I met Rudrani Chettri, and I was stunned. She opened my mind, and changed my life. Every stereotype I had unconsciously absorbed over the years was shattered. She’s strong, passionate and determined, a hijra activist totally dedicated to improving conditions for her community. I soon came to realise how limiting and damaging all those prejudices and traditional roles are for transgender people in India.

Rudrani led me through the hijra world; the brothels, the temples, the traffic lights where they beg or bless – I heard heart-rending stories of isolation, violence, and abuse; how they’re often thrown out of the family home, barred from work and from accessing health and education; condemned by lack of opportunities to scratch a dangerous living on the streets – and yet they have such vivacity, such defiance, hope, humour and love.

I started filming Rudrani’s fight to keep her charity, the Mitr Trust afloat, and to support hundreds of hijras, who bring the most unimaginable problems to her door every day

And I was there when Rudrani dreamed up a new activist project ….. … India’s First Transgender Model Agency.

Rudrani Chettri
Rudrani Chettri

This agency hopes to get hijras work and money, but it’s also something bigger, more innovative and subversive; it’s activism in action, a way for Rudrani to challenge and deconstruct all the prejudices that have grown around the transgender community in India.

This film is the story of how Rudrani gathers together a small, tightly bonded crew of fellow hijra dreamers, and set out to storm all the barricades Indian society has erected against them.

Their plan?

… to change the way India sees them and their community …

… It’s the fight to create a safe place where young transgender people need not feel fear - need not feel rejected or unloved - need not feel the pressure to fit into a stereotype of “sacred” or “shameful” – a space that is physical, mental and spiritual, where they can express their own sense of gender fluidity and personal identity - and finally, be seen as fully human – not male, not female, not holy, not profane – but beautiful in their own unique and vital way, as self-contradictory, complicated and profoundly unquantifiable as anyone else in the world.

Niharika
Niharika

HOW WILL THIS FILM MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

We want HIJRA to be seen worldwide. It will tour on the cinema and festival circuit and have international distribution. To further support Rudrani, we will team up with a major development charity that will screen the film to thousands of young and vulnerable groups across India; some of them will be transgender groups, some support groups; and we want to use Rudrani’s voice to challenge prejudice and promote tolerance. We are also working with national LGBTQ+ organisations in the UK and America to make sure the film gets seen by young audiences to raise further awareness and increase international LGBTQ+ solidarity.

If we're lucky enough to go beyond our target funding, the money will go towards strengthening our global outreach strategy, and we will work to use the film as a key learning tool to spread awareness about the complexities faced by the non-binary trans community in India today and help forge stronger links between the international transgender community and this relatively isolated and unique community in India.

WHAT NOW? 

Filming:
Over the next few months there will be some major events happening we must be able to film. 

Early next year, India will go to the polling stations to vote for a new government. With a current right wing government in power, this could be a catalyst for change and tensions will be high. At this time, Rudrani's model agency will be fighting to take root and flourish, but there will be pressures from all sides for hijras to conform to ancient stereotypes. Rudrani faces pressure from within her own community, even from people close to her, who aren’t sure about her modern, taboo-busting approach. She yearns to travel abroad to meet with international allies in the Trans community, those who can share her struggle and provide support. 

We’re fashioning a documentary we’re proud of and which we hope will make a difference. But we need help to keep filming – because Rudrani’s story, and the story of those she works with, isn’t finished....

Message from Trans activist Shash Appan

As people who are outsiders, we hear the occasional news article about India acknowledging a third gender, and most recently finally decriminalising homosexuality, but that doesn’t describe the mostly toxic culture and public life which LGBTQ+ people must navigate. Rudrani’s work is something I thought I would never see in India. Her work will give the hijra community the respect and acceptance they deserve and provide the community a platform to showcase themselves, the way they want to be represented.

The international trans movement needs to acknowledge the different ways of being trans. The LGBTQ+ movement was started by trans people of colour, so we mustn’t forget our trans siblings from all over the world, or our fight takes a step backwards. Especially in these times of where governments are implementing policies to erase trans and intersex people, we need to support each other as much as we can; from the Trump administration trying to force our American trans and intersex siblings out of existence, to the UK where hostile TERF are harassing trans people navigating a public life, we are under attack as trans people. All of us are struggling in so many ways just for being assigned the wrong gender at birth.

If you’re cis and you’re angry at the discrimination and hostility trans people face, then speak up and support us. Promote films and media with trans involvement. Donate to charities that help trans people. Provide opportunities for trans people to represent themselves, so we change misconceptions of being trans. Support people like Rudrani so her story and her hijra community and their dreams of acceptance can get a little bit closer to reality.

We need your support to showcase trans voices, now more than ever. Positive trans representation is what we need to combat this perpetual hate.

So listen to Rudrani’s story, don’t forget about the hijra community and support trans and intersex people.

Please help us make this film.The funds will go towards vital shooting and editing expenses. Help us keep a promise - a promise we made to ourselves, three years ago – that in whatever way we can, whatever it takes, we want to tell the world about Rudrani and her friends, and show you why we think they should be heard.

Niharika
Niharika

Risks and challenges

These funds are key for us to continue filming and to draw attention to Rudrani's work. These are not funds to complete the film, but they will go a long way to help us move forward with the project and we invite more partners and donors to join us in the process. It takes a long time and a large community to make a feature film, please join the fight!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About US$ 6

    DHANYAVAD!

    Thanks for joining our community - you'll receive a big online THANK YOU on our Facebook and twitter page :) and updates - including exclusive videos and photos straight to your inbox.

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    A DIGITAL STILL

    Add a bit of hijra color to your world ; choose from a range of colourful stills, showcasing our cast of fabulous hijras models - and DHANYAVAD! perk.

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    A Signed POSTCARD from our designer

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    AN EXCLUSIVE DHANYAVAD!

    Share the scent of the hijras’ world - We’ll send you a selection of 20 handpicked organic incense sticks from the Auroville Ashram in India. Plus perks 1, 2 and 3!

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    THE FINISHED FILM

    A ‘first look’ streaming copy of the film when we come out of the edit, prior to the official release - plus AN EXCLUSIVE DHANYAVAD! perk.

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    Pledge £50 or more About $65

    THE FINISHED FILM & HIJRA POSTER!

    The streaming copy of the finished film in advance of the DVD and an exclusive HIJRA poster, designed exclusively for the pre-release of the film.
    plus AN EXCLUSIVE DHANYAVAD! perk.

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    A GIFT FROM THE HIJRA WORLD...

    Ghungroo are the traditional Indian anklets worn by hijras in their safe space, where they can dance to their heart’s content; symbols of personal freedom and self-expression. We will send you your own Ghungroo to say THANK YOU and invite you to join the hijras’ dance for freedom!

    Plus AN EXCLUSIVE DHANYAVAD! and an online copy of the film.

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    A GIFT FROM THE HIJRA WORLD

    A Beautiful Kashmiri Indian scarf made by traditional weavers and cherished by many Hijras.
    Plus AN EXCLUSIVE DHANYAVAD! and an online copy of the film.

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    Pledge £150 or more About $194

    THE FULL FILM PACKAGE

    We will send you your own Ghungroo to say THANK YOU and invite you to join the hijras’ dance for freedom!
    A Beautiful Kashmiri Indian scarf made by traditional weavers and cherished by many Hijras.
    A ‘first look’ streaming copy of the film when we come out of the edit, prior to the official release
    The streaming copy of the finished film in advance of the DVD and an exclusive HIJRA poster, designed exclusively for the pre-release of the film
    Plus AN EXCLUSIVE DHANYAVAD perk!
    It really is the Full Package!

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    Pledge £250 or more About $323

    YOUR NAME ON SCREEN!

    Your name will appear in the final credits of the theatrical version of the film, to be shown in film festivals and cinemas around the world!

    Plus you’ll receive THE FULL FILM PACKAGE.

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    Pledge £350 or more About $452

    BONUS PERK (limited to 10)

    An exclusive set of 5 printed stills from the shoot with Rudrani and her chosen ally in London.
    Your name will appear in the final credits of the theatrical version of the film, to be shown in film festivals and cinemas around the world.
    Plus you’ll receive THE FULL FILM PACKAGE.

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    INVITE TO THE FILM PREMIERE (in the UK)

    2 tickets to the UK festival premiere where you will attend the exclusive screening of the film and sit with the attending filmmaking team, plus your name in the credits and THE FULL FILM PACKAGE.
    This offer is limited to 5 x donors 
(Travel/hotel not included)

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    INVITE TO THE FILM PREMIERE (in the USA)

    2 tickets to the North American festival premiere where you will attend the exclusive screening of the film and sit with the attending filmmaking team, plus your name in the credits and THE FULL FILM PACKAGE.
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    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,290

    A modelling shoot with Rudrani!

    The chance to feature in a modelling shoot with Rudrani in the UK, plus 2 tickets to any festival premiere where you will attend the exclusive screening of the film and sit with the attending filmmaking team. You'll also receive a SPECIAL THANKS in the credits and THE FULL FILM PACKAGE.

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    OFFICIAL AMBASSADORS

    Your name will be credited as an OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR in the credits.

    You will be invited to the World Premiere (or a premiere in the country of your choice), and the chance to have red carpet photos with Rudrani - Plus THE FULL FILM PACKAGE.

    (Travel/hotel not included)

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Funding period

- (31 days)