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Sex-Trafficking Survivors, Pauline Kael and Boxers in Burqas: July 2015’s Crowdfunding Projects

Sex-Trafficking Survivors, Pauline Kael and Boxers in Burqas: July 2015's Crowdfunding Projects

Women have plenty to fight for, and in our picks for this week’s women-centric crowdfunding projects, we see women in battle — for freedom, against sex trafficking, for their right to know their family and to express their opinions on art. 
Still I Rise – Directed and Produced by Sheri Shuster

What it’s about: The documentary spotlights three survivors of sex trafficking who are now fighting to combat child sex trafficking in California through advocacy, theater and entrepreneurship. The film also explores why three out of four victims are girls of color. 
Who is involved: Documentary filmmaker Sheri Shuster is an experienced human-rights advocate. She served as the Associate Director for Covenant House in California, one of the largest organizations in the Americas to serve homeless and trafficked youth, from 2008-2012. This is where she met Leah, one of the film’s protagonists, who is now a national spokeswoman in the campaign against sex trafficking.
Why we’re interested: 300,000 children in the US are at risk of being prostituted, and the average age of targets is 12-14, according to the Department of Justice. Shedding light on the shocking reality of child sex trafficking, as well as the amazing work the three survivor-leaders are doing to help ,is clearly of enormous importance. The short clip in the trailer of a young woman telling her story of being pimped out at 16 and now trying to lead a normal life was so gripping that we can’t wait to see the rest.  
The deadline: You can donate to the film’s Indiegogo campaign until August 2.           
Burqa Boxers – Written and Directed by Alka Raghuram
What it’s about: Young Muslim women in Kolkata dream of a better future by learning boxing from Razia Shabnam, one of the first Indian female boxing coaches. It’s a story about courage, self-worth and overcoming fear.
Who is involved: Alka Raghuram is a filmmaker and a multidisciplinary artist. Her shorts “Tired of Dancing,” “Panchali and the Ant” and “The Monkey” have screened at various festivals in the US and abroad. “Burqa Boxers” was awarded the top prize in the Open Doors Awards at the Locarno Film Festival co-production market in 2011.
Why we’re interested: “Boxing teaches you to stand your ground and openly fight for what’s rightfully yours in the ring and in society,” says one of the teenage girls in the trailer. In India, the government reserves jobs in the public sector for successful athletes, so the girls are also fighting for a good life in which they can support themselves. These young women are so determined, self-aware and hardcore that they are an inspiration to us all. 
The deadline: You can support the film’s Kickstarter campaign until August 5.
What She Said – Written and directed by Rob Garver
What it’s about: A portrait of Pauline Kael, one of America’s most influential film critics. The documentary gives life to Kael’s voice, pairing it with scenes from the movies she wrote about and hearing from the filmmakers and actors who knew her, were inspired by her or were at the pointed end of her pen, including Quentin Tarantino, David O. Russell, Paul Schrader, Francis Ford Coppola, David Edelstein, Stephanie Zacharek, Molly Haskell and Alec Baldwin.
Who is involved: Rob Garver has written, produced, and directed several short films that have screened in local New York cinemas and aired on cable television. His films include “Comic Belief,” a documentary profile of cartoonist Dan Piraro; “The Man in the Yellow Cap”; and “Two Roads From Belfast, Maine,” a short narrative that has aired on the Classic Arts Showcase cable network. Like many of his peers, he grew up reading Pauline Kael.
Why we’re interested: Pauline Kael was a trailblazer in film criticism, and her sharp pen, passion for movies, original thinking and courage to swim against the current can’t be celebrated enough. We’re eager to learn more about Kael and the many directors and critics she has influenced. 
The deadline: You can support the Kickstarter campaign until August 8.
No Light and No Land Anywhere – Directed by Amber Sealy 
What it’s about: A narrative feature about 40-year-old Lexi, who abandons her life in London to go to Los Angeles to search for her estranged father. 
Who is involved:No Light and No Land Anywhere” is writer-director Amber Sealy’s third feature. “How to Cheat” and “A Plus D” received great reviews on the festival circuit. Miranda July is a consulting producer, and the rest of the crew includes award winners like producers Alysa Nahmias and Drea Clark, cinematographer Catherine Goldschmidt and editor Jessica Hernandez. In fact, 87% of the cast and crew are female.
Why we’re interested: Sealy’s previous films have been lauded for their dark humor and amazing performances, and this appears to have those qualities, along with a gut-wrenching exploration of family relations. The team behind the film — including the always-original Miranda July — looks great, and we applaud the activism in hiring an almost all-female crew. “We were conscious of how the support we’ve received in our own careers has incrementally helped with gender inequality, and we wanted to continue to pay it forward by expanding our reach when hiring,” stated producer Drea Clark. We couldn’t agree more.
The deadline: You can donate to the Indiegogo campaign until August 13.

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