This week’s crowdfunding picks are bound together by the focus that each project gives to human welfare, subversive countercultures and the fight for women’s rights. “The Seeds of Vandana Shiva,” “100 Litres” and “Afghan Cycles: Breaking Boundaries on Two Wheels” are documentary films determined to uncover human rights abuses at the hands of profit-driven corporations and deep-rooted societal misogyny, as well as the many inspirational female figures fighting against institutional oppression. “Hotel Clermont” explores the charismatic and colorful outcasts that formed the seedy-yet-sociable heart of Hotel Clermont in Atlanta before it closed in 2009. Similarly, “Coke. Champagne. & Cigarettes” is a story about three young artists roaming the streets of Berlin, eager to find themselves amidst the anxious crowds of a jilted generation. Each of these insightful and thought-provoking pieces is worthy of recognition and support as part of the fight for more women in film.
Hotel Clermont – Directed by Heather Hutson
Indie filmmaker and Atlanta native Heather Hutson peers into the diverse depths of the Clermont Hotel” an “infamous” establishment once home to America’s aimless wanderers and subversive social rejects. Hutson describes her project as a short documentary that “will honor the Clermont: a place all Atlantans know of, but few know.” Besotted with the underbelly of the town, she explains that “the hotel intrigues all walks of life. Part of the fascination is due to its basement tenant: Atlanta’s oldest strip club. This dive bar is famous locally and internationally among counterculture locals and touring rock bands, but the residents who rented rooms in the hotel upstairs occupied even further-outlying corners of Atlanta society. It is their stories we aim to tell.”
Indian eco-activist Vandana Shiva is the illuminating subject of “The Seeds of Vandana Shiva.” The film explores her call for more efficient and organic ways to govern communities as part of a global socio-green movement, separate from dependence on an unequal and poverty-inducing capitalist system. Over the last forty years, this prominent female figure has been raising issues concerning climate change, water wars and deforestation. The film’s crowdfunding page explains that, “on the frontline stands Vandana Shiva, facing down the interests of money and power, fearlessly defending the small farmers — mostly women — who feed their communities.” Independent documentary filmmaker Camilla Becket highlights that the film is about Vandana Shiva and her “unstoppable movement for change.” You can contribute to the development of this project on the film’s Kickstarter page until September 19.
Independent filmmaker and Berlin resident Mariana Jukica presents a story about three artists whose complex lives intertwine over the course of a mysterious urban night in Berlin. The film’s crowdfunding page describes “Coke. Champagne. & Cigarettes.” as “a movie about isolation and disconnection, but at the same time full of hope and dreams. It’s set in front of the societal background of the so-called Generation Y; people in their 20s and 30s living in Berlin.’ Jukica offers a film that gazes into the enigmatic lives of lost souls– a generation of young people who utilize art as a form of resistance, self-identification and self-expression. Donations are being accepted on the film’s crowdfunding page until September 24.
“100 Litres isn’t just a movie, it’s a movement,” explains independent filmmaker Katie Young. “This PBS documentary is a story about how we all depend on water and how people can unite to protect this human right — worldwide — and ensure reliable, affordable drinking water.” The film confronts head-on the poverty-inducing privatization of fundamental resources, including access to clean, drinking water, which — it should be added — is a basic human right. The film looks specifically at Ireland as a recent example of the corporate pursuit to put a price tag on water and the collective public opposition that followed. Young notes that, “instead of lying down, citizens are standing up in a national, social change movement.” You can help with the funding of this project through the film’s crowdfunding page until September 26.
“Afghan Cycles” is a courageous feature documentary by independent filmmaker Sarah Menzies. It follows a new generation of Afghan women fearlessly confronting gender and cultural barriers through the culturally “shameful” act of riding bicycles. Channeling ingenious and (literally) female-driven films like Haifaa al-Mansour’s “Wadjda” (2012), “Ten” (2002) by Abbas Kiarostami and the more recent “Speed Sisters” (2015) by Amber Fares, Menzies imagines the bicycle as a politically-charged metaphor for women’s freedom of mobility, independence, and social change. The director explains that “from a rural team in Bamiyan, to a cycling club riding the busy streets of Kabul, these women are ushering in a new era for a country that is awakening to global influence — risking their honor and their lives for the joy and liberation of riding a bicycle.” It certainly promises to be a feminist feast. Donations are warmly welcomed on the film’s Kickstarter page until September 30.