A story of empowerment and resilience. Longing for a life of choice, Rupi sacrifices all that she has ever known and escapes to Wales with her two young daughters.
The past - a young woman in her wedding chuni. The present - RUPI, 25, walks along a factory corridor.
In the locker room there’s banter as the other workers prepare for a night out. Rupi is left alone, thoughtful, heart beating. A car pulls up outside and waits for her.
At home Rupi kisses her sleeping daughters and tucks them in, she tightens her pajamas and climbs in to bed, pulling the covers around herself as footsteps approach.
The next day Rupi cooks chapatis at home, intercutting with chapati-making in the Punjab, a tradition passed down through generations. Older sister BAL chatters away in the park as a distant Rupi watches families playing happily, a carefree young couple in love. Bal registers her sisters desire.
Rupi meticulously tidies her marital home, completing each task with precision. She pauses to relish the material objects she has worked and saved hard for. Then taking her daughters by the hands she leaves.
A noisy, disorientating women’s refuge in Wales - their future uncertain but in their own hands.
Director's Statement / Creative Vision
I’m deeply inspired by the strength and persistence of women, particularly ‘those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women.’ (Lorde, 1984)
Being of Sikh heritage and growing up in working class Wales, I have a personal connection with the themes explored in I Choose. My work is inspired by the intersectionality of cultural identity.
I have encountered many stories from women who - despite facing adversity - show extraordinary resilience. This film explores and champions that strength.
Rupi’s desire for a life of choice and the opportunity to experience what the world has to offer her and her two young daughters is what drives her to leave all that she has ever known - her marriage, family, community and the job she loved at a sandwich factory - for a perceived life of freedom and choice.
Fragile, fierce and impulsive - I’m curious to explore Rupi’s decision to leave. Growing up in the UK, Rupi’s connection to and pride in her Sikh heritage inspires an inward strength. Sikhism is a religion that originated in the Punjab around the end of the 15th century. A religion that strives to be egalitarian and reveres their female warriors.
I will draw upon my experience as a multi-disciplinary artist and dancer, using archive and footage that I filmed in India alongside choreographed sequences depicting Rupi’s emotional journey (capturing a breath, the difference in how she folds her children’s and husbands clothes) to weave a visually textured narrative accompanied by an original composed score.
I’m excited to be given the opportunity to tell this story. Thank you for supporting my work.
THEMES & VISUAL NARRATIVE - Empowerment, Identity, Freedom of Choice.
This film depicts the universal story of an individual’s right to make their own choices and the human desire to strive for a better life.
Forced marriage was only made illegal in England and Wales four years ago and thousands across the UK and many more worldwide continue to suffer from this ‘hidden crime’.
Rupi is living in an unhappy forced marriage, which ultimately is her motivation for leaving, but whilst I Choose seeks to create a voice and visibility for those going unheard - the focus of this film is a celebration of resilience, empowerment and the strength and spirt of our inner warrior!
Tina’s work is informed by her aspirations for women, particularly those who are marginalised - not only to survive but to succeed.
But Where Are You From? - C4 / Random Acts / Big Dance India
An abstract moving canvas which explores the fluidity of cultural identity.
Tina Pasotra - Writer/Director
Tina is a multi-disciplinary artist and filmmaker whose practice spans theatre, dance, fashion, film and installation. Her work has received support from Arts Council Wales, British Council, Wales Arts International and she is a current member of BFI NETWORK x BAFTA CREW.
Tina’s previous short But Where Are You From?, commissioned by C4/Random Acts in association with Big Dance India, featured at the Science Museum's “Illuminating India” event and has screened at festivals across the UK and India.
Tina was National Theatre Wales’ emerging director for their 2016 immersive production The Insatiable, Inflatable Candylion, inspired by Gruff Rhys’ seminal album. In 2018 Tina went on to assist NTW’s Artistic Director, Kully Thiarai, on Sisters - an international collaboration with Junoon Theatre Mumbai, exploring the lives of women from the South Asian diaspora.
Tina is currently developing a site specific project with NTW as part of their Radical Creatures call out, as well as a new Arts Council Wales Research & Development grant exploring architectural practice through underrepresented voices, in discussions with curatorial professionals at galleries such as the Serpentine. Later this year Tina will also be collaborating with London-based musician Love Ssega on a project that will explore themes of migration through movement and music.
Read more about Tina's work: https://tinapasotra.com/
Alice Lusher - Writer/Producer
Alice is Head of Drama at ie ie productions. Having previously worked alongside some of the UK’s leading independent production companies, she has a broad understanding of filmmaking from concept to delivery. Her award-winning short films Elen, Once And For All and But Where Are You From? have screened internationally.
She was a 2017/18 participant on Birds Eye View Filmonomics - which ‘Advocates and educates the female perspective in film through "Action!" - not words’ - and is mentored by Katherine Biddle of See Saw Films through BFI NETWORK x BAFTA crew.
Alice recently produced Welsh broadcaster S4C’s first short form, bilingual drama series Merched Parchus (Respectable Girls) and is developing projects with various television broadcasters and film funds; including a short film slate supporting emerging writer/directors, an animated family feature, a YA novel adaptation about a young woman with BPD and the true story of a young transgender girl from South Wales.
ie ie productions
ie ie productions are a bilingual production company based in Cardiff, Wales supported by Ffilm Cymru Wales and the BFI Vision Award. They are committed to supporting new talent on their television and film-making career paths and have a solid foundation in producing content from underrepresented communities on the peripheries of society.
Our 2017/18 award winning films and television productions Queerama, Elen, But Where Are You From?, Richard and Jaco: Life With Autism explored themes of sexuality, race and disability and featured majority on and off-screen female identifying representation from a range of diverse groups. Our bilingual short form drama series Merched Parchus (Respectable Girls) - produced for S4C with the support of Welsh Government, was lead by a core female team and provided training opportunities for Welsh crews both at entry level and to step up within their departments.
Catryn Ramasut - Executive Producer
Founder & MD, Catryn has established ie ie productions' global reputation for producing and distributing award winning feature documentaries that push the boundaries of how audiences connect to stories and understand the world around us.
Her debut feature Separado! won the CPH:DOX Sound & Vision award 2010; and the critically acclaimed multi-platform production American Interior saw Catryn lead over 30 international stakeholders to deliver a pioneering production including a film, album, book and app. Her more recent successes include Queerama which opened the Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2017. She is currently in post-production on ie ie’s 4th feature documentary, about the legendary Welsh recording studios Rockfield.
The BFI Vision award 2016 along with Catryn’s participation in the Guiding Lights scheme (mentored by Alison Owen) has provided ie ie with the capacity to diversify & expand its focus from real life narrative to dramatic storytelling.
Stella Nwimo - Executive Producer
Stella Nwimo began her career working as a production manager and line producer on television drama and feature films. She has since been producing independent feature films which have been released theatrically and via online digital platforms.
Stella executive produced Hammad Khan’s Pakistan-set debut feature Slackistan and produced Menhaj Huda's British Asian youth drama Everywhere & Nowhere, both of which were released theatrically in the UK. Slackistan gained a nomination at the Africa International Film Festival and was acquired by the Sundance Channel.
As Producer Stella’s feature film credits include: Campbell X’s multi-award winning LGBTQ+ urban romance, Stud Life; the psychological thriller Rearview, set for a UK release by Bulldog Distribution; Youngun, a US based gun crime documentary by Alex Melhuish; The Mad Axeman being sold by Moviehouse Pictures; andKat and the Band, starring Ella Hunt & Dougie Poynter, which Starline Entertainment have acquired for international distribution.
Stella recently completed Catherine Linstrum’s coming of age drama Nuclear, which stars UK actors Emilia Jones and George MacKay.
Victoria Wijeratne - Composer
Victoria Wijeratne will compose the soundtrack for I Choose. The soundtrack will play a key role in the narrative of this film and we cannot wait to collaborate with Victoria!
Originally from London, Victoria is a self taught composer for Film & TV. She specialises in high end film productions, combining her own unique experimental style with contemporary, minimal classical elements of film music scoring.
In 2011, she won Best Composer at Underwire Film Festival for Louise Marie Cooke's short film “First Bite”. This led her to the scoring of her first feature film “The Liability”, directed by Craig Viveiros and starring Tim Roth, Peter Mullan, Jack O’Connell and Talulah Riley among others.
In 2014, she was awarded an emerging excellence fund by Help Musicians UK, which enabled her to work with the Bergersen String Quartet to score the short film “Siren". She was invited to Berlinale Talents (part of the Berlin Film Festival) as a 2015 sound studio participant, which led her to compose for documentaries such as "Hong Kong Roof Top Rebels" for Al Jazeera Media Network in 2016.
In 2017, she scored the short film "Missed Conceptions", which was screened at BFI Flare 2018, the biggest LGBTQ+ Film Festival in Europe. One of her latest works is the soundtrack to “69” a feature documentary about the oldest gay leather club in Europe, directed by Rob Eagle, which premiered as part of Pride in London at Tate Britain in July 2018.
Her extensive professional experience led to her acceptance on the University of Edinburgh’s MA in Composition for Screen. Victoria was also accepted in the 2018/2019 edition of BAFTA Crew and now BFI Network x BAFTA Crew 2019/2020.
Adam Scarth - Director of Photography
Adam Scarth recently wrapped on a block of TOP BOY (Season 3) directed by Brady Hood, and MARI, the feature directed by Georgia Parris. Adam has shot RIALTO and DAPHNE directed by Peter Mackie Burns and produced by The Bureau. He lensed APOSTASY directed by Dan Kokotajlo for iFeatures and BFI. Adam has also built a reputable career in commercials, having shot campaigns for directors such as Oliver Wurffell, George Belfield and Sing J Lee.
Isobel Mehta - Illustrator
Illustrator Isobel Mehta, whose work explores identity and memory, will be bringing her talents to 'I Choose'. In collaboration with Tina, Isobel will create a contemporary illustration of Sikh warrior Mai Bhago Kaur on horseback, interweaving Rupi's cultural heritage with her modern reality.
Splice - Post Production
SPLICE, one of the UK's leading post-production companies, will be helping us bring I Choose to life. We couldn't be more excited to be working with SPLICE - you can check out some of their amazing work here.
Risks and challenges
Putting together any production is like a jigsaw and always involves problem solving and compromises - whilst always striving to find the most practical solutions to realise the creative vision. This is especially prevalent when working with short films and passion projects.
Bringing together a team of collaborators who are onboard with the with an egalitarian ethos helps to ensure a positive and open working environment. We will be paying all crew the same daily rate regardless of role or experience to ensure each member of the team feels of equal worth to the project as each other.
With small fees and shoot periods, a short film is always at risk of losing a team member to a bigger production, should this situation arise and our schedules become incompatible we will work to replace the team member, drawing on our database of contacts within the industry.
This is a film about a Sikh woman and casting and locations/design are key to the telling of this story. We are in the process of casting the roles of Rupi and Bal and are holding open auditions with children from the Sikh community who aren’t trained actors. This is an exciting way to cast, especially children but you need to allow time for the children/performers to become accustomed to the filming environment and to work your schedule around the filming with children guidelines.
It is always the aim to find locations as close to the desired aesthetic with our main location being a Sikh household this could present challenges - we are privileged to have contacts within the Sikh community and a number of people working to help us with casting, location scouting and loaning objects for set dressing.
With smaller budget productions there’s not always the option to carry replacement kit. There’s always the possibility that kit could go wrong and we will need to be prepared and able to think on our feet to find practical and creative solutions for this. ie ie productions has access to some kit which can be used in case of emergencies with the hired in kit and we have good relationships with number of camera and lighting companies should replacements need to be found.
We are working to a delivery deadline of mid August but should a serious delay to the schedule occur, there is an element of flexibility with this - as must always be the case when working on passion projects.
We already have over 50% of our projected production budget and are now working hard to raise the rest of the finance to ensure we are able to realise the vision for this film. We will always ensure our collaborators are fairly remunerated and we now need to raise the rest of the budget to achieve the ambition and production value for this films focusing on locations and design.
Although we are aware there are always risks and challenges - we are confident that there is always a solution!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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