For their efforts, the couple recently received the Society for Visual anthropology’s Jean Rouch Award for Collaborative Filmmaking.
Funding is always a problem for producers of independent documentaries. Friedman said that funding for Please Don’t Beat Me, Sir! came from academic sales of Acting Like a Thief, online fundraising and grants from funding agencies such as The New York State Council for the Arts and the Asia Network for Documentary at the Busan International Film Festival.
GLOBAL FILMMAKING TEAM
Friedman, a native of New Jersey where he was raised in a Jewish family, and Talukdar, an Indian who grew up in New Delhi steeped in Hindu traditions, have put their own roots in the background and now work as an international movie-making team with global audiences in mind. He spends most of the year in Taiwan, usually only leaving the country for a few weeks of the year.
“Shashwati earlier was working quite a bit in New York and traveling back and forth to New York a lot, but lately she’s been doing more work in India and has two new projects based in her hometown. The first is about 17th and 18th century mural paintings and the second is a fiction piece that is still in development.”
Talukdar, 45, is also producing a movie about Taiwanese democracy, she told the Taipei Times.
“This project grew out of Kerim’s friendship with two men who were imprisoned during the White Terror period,” she said. “They spent 10 years in prison just for reading the wrong books. I would like to make an experimental documentary inspired by their stories, but it is too early in the process to say much more about the project.”
Don’t Beat Me, Sir! had its world premiere at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival and it also recently received a “special mention” at the 2012 Zanzibar International Film Festival. But since the couple shot the film in India, the International Film Festival of India in Goa was especially important for them, Talukdar said.
“Not only was it the Indian premiere of our film, but it was an opportunity to raise awareness about the plight of the group in the film,” she said. “The Goa screening was a big success, with many people staying long afterwards for intense but friendly discussions.”
Friedman said they are currently working on a DVD version of the film and volunteers have already provided translations in Chinese, Spanish, French, Arabic, Swedish, Bulgarian and German. With the movie in the can and now screening on several continents, Friedman and Talukdar hope to use the film to raise awareness and funds.
“Budhan Theatre is not just a theater troupe, they’re re also an important community organization,” Friedman said. “We founded a nonprofit, called Vimukta, to help support their community development and education programs. We are now trying to raise money to support their children’s theater program.”