Even When I Fall tells the story of three remarkable young Nepali women, all survivors of human trafficking into corrupt big-top circuses across India. They met as teenagers in a Kathmandu refuge after they had been rescued and it is here that we begin our story – in the often overlooked aftermath of a childhood spent in captivity and forced labour. They were inadvertently left with a secret weapon by their captors – their breathtaking skill as circus performers.
Even When I Fall traces their journey as they work hard with 10 other survivors of human trafficking to build Circus Kathmandu – Nepal’s first and only circus – following their stories as they face the families that sold them and seek acceptance within their own communities.
With Circus Kathmandu they discover a new strength, pride and something more: a sense of responsibility that comes with the stage – to use the crowd’s attention to spread a message, to educate against trafficking. Quickly their work grows to an international stage – from the rich beauty of the Kathmandu Valley, through the dusty poverty-stricken border towns of the Terai plains and finally to the bright lights and crowds of the famous Big Top at England’s spectacular Glastonbury Festival. The film witnesses three remarkable young women finding their voices as campaigners against human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
Human trafficking is the world’s fastest growing criminal activity - Nepal's national report estimates that 12,000 women and children are trafficked to India every year and there are currently an estimated 100,000-200,000 trafficked Nepali people in India. Children are often sold by family members hoping to give their children a better life or simply as a last resource to provide for the rest of their families. Returning from domestic servitude or circuses is highly stigmatised. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal in April 2015 has further exacerbated this situation and local NGOs have noted that human trafficking is already on the rise.
What we want to do
We've been working with Circus Kathmandu for the past 5 years and know we're making a powerful and beautiful film that has a strongly participatory component. We want to tell a story of hope and change in a way that will be as magical to its audience as the most breathtaking circus performance.
The film’s striking and exciting visual content will also be a platform for discussion on the many issues it raises including women’s empowerment, freedom of expression and education. We are currently connecting with local experts, organisations and academic specialists to develop an impact strategy to accompany the film's release.
Who we are
Co-Director Sky Neal was a professional aerialist in contemporary circus before beginning to make films. She first went to Nepal after hearing about the extent of trafficking and it is there that she met the young people who went on to set up Circus Kathmandu. Co-Director Kate McLarnon joined her soon after and together they began to film the birth of Circus Kathmandu and follow its story from humble beginnings to international success. Key to the team's approach is collaboration, working closely with Renu, Saraswoti and Sheetal to tell the story through their eyes to share with us their personal, inner worlds and explain the bitter struggles and big dreams that unfold behind the bright lights of the stage.
BAFTA nominated Producer Elhum Shakerifar is responsible for funding, strategy... making sure the film gets made and that you see it when it's ready! Her most recent production was the multi-award winning A Syrian Love Story (Sean McAllister, 2015), which she distributed in the UK, and other films have screened at festivals including Berlinale, IDFA and Hot Docs, and been broadcast internationally. Elhum is also a programmer, formerly of Bird’s Eye View Film Festival (spotlighting women directors) and currently with London Film Festival. She was Bechdel Test Fest's inaugural Our Girl Friday for being a champion of women in film.
Choreographer and Creative Consultant Robyn Simpson has been involved from the beginning and has supported Circus Kathmandu in their shows and project development. She has been essential to Even When I Fall as both choreographer and creative consultant.
A huge number of people have also supported various parts of the film’s life. To mention a few, our talented crew has included sound designer Dennis Wheatley, DoPs Ben Marshall, Tom Swindell and Lisa Cazzato-Vieyra, sound recordist Henry Milliner and choreographer Christian Schooneveldt. The film's marketing and outreach is currently managed by Celia Turley and Jo Duncombe.
Circus is all about teamwork - join us!
Five years in the making we’ve nearly finished the filming side of things... we have been supported by film funders including BFI Film Fund, Sundance Documentary Film Programme, Worldview, Chicken and Egg Film Fund, Women Make Movies (as well as a few other funders we'll be able to reveal in the next month!) and of course the generosity of a team of people….
Where your money goes
Your backing will be the final push to get the film finished! We have raised enough money for a final shoot in May 2016 but we need to raise £30,000 to take us to the finish line. The money will pay for the film’s edit (as the film has been so long in the making, we estimate this to take approx 4 months) and will also contribute to the post production (meaning all the final elements necessary to making it a beautiful final film – colour grading and sound mixing).
By funding Even When I Fall, you can be part of creating a film about this unique group of young people and of Nepal’s first circus, as well as helping to create a unique tool for education and outreach around human trafficking. In return for your support, we have some great rewards including film memorabilia, VIP screenings and even trapeze lessons with co-director Sky!
Our hopes for Even When I Fall
This is a film about hopes, dreams and inspirational young people, who have challenged social stigma and their status quo. We are aiming for visibility at festivals and on television channels around the world and have already received interest from major international festivals.
Once finished, we will be innovative in our release strategies. The film will be a celebration of Circus Kathmandu and will become an advocacy tool for their work and to educate against trafficking. We will combine live action circus performances & film screenings, providing a platform for Circus Kathmandu to perform and speak publicly about their stories. If we're lucky enough to go beyond our target funding, the money will go towards the film’s edit and towards strengthening our global outreach strategy, using the film as a key tool for the circus to spread awareness in trafficking prone communities.
What to do now
We'd love you to join the team by pledging to our campaign: to do this, simply check out the great rewards we have on offer in the green panels on the right of the page, select the one you want and follow the link from there.
There are other ways you can support us too – the more we can spread the word, the closer we’ll get to completing the film, so please share our Kickstarter project among your friends and family, join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, retweet, spread the word, email people about it… If you’re a sound designer, composer, social media strategist, post-production house wanting to support the film – we’d love to hear from you! We’re also planning ahead for the film’s distribution and outreach and keen to find partners to help support Circus Kathmandu’s attendance at venues internationally. If you have any thoughts or would like to hear more about this – get in touch and join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
Find out more about Circus Kathmandu
Risks and challenges
Independent film-making is a challenging space – funds are limited and competitive and the best storytelling is in the long game. We’ve been lucky enough to have the support of some wonderful funders. Through this and through the patience, creativity and a huge amount of energy from the crew, we have managed to complete the filming – internationally, often complex shoots filmed to the highest quality – on a shoestring.
The next stage is actually putting it all together and telling this remarkable story – we estimate the edit to take at least 4 months and for post production to take a further month. We anticipate finishing the film by the end of the year - so your rewards will be with you in 2017.
Kickstarter is all or nothing so, if we don't hit our £30,000 target by the deadline, your card won't be charged and we won't receive any money pledged. If we don’t meet our deadline, we will simply not be able to finish the film!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)