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Please Don't Beat Me, Sir! - Documentary film set in India's video poster

Indian society calls them "born criminals." They call themselves "born actors." And they are fighting back against police brutality. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on October 15, 2011.

Indian society calls them "born criminals." They call themselves "born actors." And they are fighting back against police brutality.

About this project

About the Film

Over sixty million Indians belong to communities imprisoned by the British as "criminals by birth." The Chhara of Ahmedabad, in Western India, are one of 198 such "Criminal Tribes." Declaring that they are "born actors," not "born criminals," a group of Chhara youth have turned to street theater in their fight against police brutality, corruption, and the stigma of criminality — a stigma internalized by their own grandparents. Please Don't Beat Me, Sir! follows the lives of these young actors and their families as they take their struggle to the streets, hoping their plays will spark a revolution.

Not only does the film show the power of art as a tool for resistance and social change, it also takes us inside Chhara society to reveal a community in transition. Made over a five year period, during which the filmmakers worked in close collaboration with their subjects, Please Don't Beat Me, Sir! exposes the tensions that exist between an older generation who did whatever it took to make ends meet and young people for whom theater offers a new world of opportunity. 

World Premiere

We are very happy to announce that our film has been officially selected to have its world premiere at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in October! The Independent listed BIFF ("Asia's largest film festival") as one of the top twelve film festivals of 2011.

In order to make the most of this exciting opportunity, we need your help to make an exhibition-ready copy of the film to show at Busan. In return, we are offering our supporters the opportunity to watch a special "Sneak Preview" version of the film, either online or as a DVD. Read on to learn how you can be one of the first people to watch the film by making a donation.

Other Festivals and Awards

We've also been selected for the Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival, and given the Society for Visual anthropology's prestigious Jean Rouch Award for Collaborative Filmmaking!

Crowd-sourced Filmmaking

A significant portion of the film's budget came from individual donations collected over the internet. Donations received during our initial round of online fundraising ranged from $15 to $5000. The film wouldn't have been possible without every one of these donations. People have also helped out in other ways: translating subtitles, recording music, designing the poster, etc. We also received grants and assistance from The Bhasha Trust, The New York State Council on the Arts, and the Asian Cinema Fund.

Now, after five years, and thanks to your support, we are ready to show the film to the world. Our goal is to have as many people see the film as possible. For a documentary film that means trying to get on TV. Film festivals like Busan are a great way to meet producers and purchasing agents, but we'll be competing with hundreds of other films showing at the same festivals. That means having the best-quality exhibition master we can afford, attending the film festivals in person to meet with potential buyers, and even hiring a professional publicist and graphic designer to help promote the film. We can't do any of this without your help.

See the Film Now!

We've been overwhelmed by all the support and encouragement we've received, and we're happy that we finally have something to give people in return for their generosity. Starting today you can watch a special "Sneak Preview" of the film online (this includes a download link) or, for a little bit more, we'll send you the DVD.

For every level of donation we've also have some special rewards, including a signed poster, your name in the credits, your name on our IMDB page, and even (for the most generous donors) a private screening with the directors.

This Sneak Preview is intended for personal use only, and is not intended for institutional sales. If you would like to use the film for teaching, or for public screenings, please contact us directly.

Exhibition-Ready Copy

This involves color correction and an "online" edit at a professional studio. Here is a short video we found which demonstrates what a difference color correction can make:

(Video by Patrick Inhofer)

Even the HD tapes required by some festivals are expensive. We urgently need to reach this goal in time for the Busan International Film Festival in October. 

We've already raised $5,000 on our own website, but we desperately need at least another $5,000 within the next 30 days. Ideally, we'd like to raise $24,000, which would let us pay for everything we would like to have done. And if we raise money over our goal, we will spend additional money on travel and accommodation to promote the film at festivals and markets, as well as on hiring a professional publicist and graphic designer. Every bit of money we raise will go towards the film.

Other Ways To Help

The easiest way you can help is by spreading the word. Share this page on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Share our trailer. Like our Facebook page. Or just tell your friends about the film. Independent documentaries like ours live or die by word-of-mouth. You are our buzz-machine and we depend on you to help get the word out.

If you have a blog or newspaper or journal and you'd like to review the film, just let us know and we'll send you a review copy of the DVD. If you are a graphic designer or publicist who can donate your services, let us know! Thank you.

About The Filmmakers

Shashwati Talukdar, Director/Producer/Editor, was educated in India and the US. She began her career as an assistant editor on one of Michael Moore's TV shows. She has worked for HBO, BBC, Lifetime, Sundance and Cablevision. Her films have screened at the Margaret Mead Festival, Berlin and the Whitney Biennial, among other venues.

P. Kerim Friedman, Director/Producer/Camera, is an assistant professor at National Dong Hwa University in Taiwan, where he teaches linguistic and visual anthropology. He is a founding member of the group anthropology blog Savage Minds and a documentary filmmaker.

[Full Credits]



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    A signed 8x10 poster of the film and our personal thanks. Every dollar helps and enough small donations will help us accomplish our goal.

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    Access to watch a Sneak Preview of the film online, as well as a link to download the film to your hard drive. This is the cheapest and fastest way to see the film!

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    All of the above, plus we will mail you a copy of the DVD with subtitles in English, Chinese, and German.

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Funding period

- (30 days)