For a private link to our funding teaser, please contact us at embaker@mariposastfilms.
“I am no bird; no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre.
'I Am No Bird' follows four brides from Turkey, Australia, India, and Mexico as they prepare for and celebrate their weddings
Benay is a kindergarten teacher in Izmir, Turkey. Her mother passed away when Benay was 14, devastating her and her family. Since that time, Benay has always wanted to grow up and be a mother. She’s also decided to marry her fiancé on Mother’s Day, to turn a sad day into a happy one.
Anna lives in Melbourne, Australia, dividing her time between church life and studying music at a secular university. For Australia, she is very conservative: she’s only ever kissed her fiance.
Dalia lives in Mexico City, and proposed to her girlfriend shortly after Mexican law changed to allow gay marriage. She is estranged from her conservative Catholic family, although her mother has agreed to attend the wedding.
Luthanlu Kamei is a Naga woman from Northeast India, marrying a man from her village. Her tribe have strict rules around marriage: Kameis must marry Gangmeis, so she has arranged to marry a Gangmei man from her village. A persecuted ethnic minority, her marriage will ensure the continuation of her culture.
Told using a combination of digital footage, Super 8 film, and animation, 'I Am No Bird' is a layered exploration of gender roles, faith, family, culture, and, of course, love.
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
Our hope is that this film will inspire dialogue between diverse communities both here in Australia and around the world. Women's voices still struggle to be heard in global conversation, and the voices of marginalised women even more so.
We have an active presence on social media that has already seen audiences from all different walks of life communicating and empathising with each other. Once the film is released, we hope to host talks at screenings in the countries of origin of each of the four women, at which they will be invited to engage in Q and A with audience members. We are also confident the film can be used as a tool to promote understanding in scholarly settings, such as universities and high schools, and to encourage audiences to think broadly about marriage and other social issues raised in the film.
As a director who works with young people from backgrounds of disadvantage (and solely with young women for much of that time), sufficient funding to create a comprehensive distribution model would give me the opportunity to involve a handful of interested students in the business side of the project. This would provide them with an opportunity to learn about and become involved with an industry that may otherwise have been inaccessible to them.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
A lack of representation of women in Australian film, both in front of and behind the camera, is finally beginning to be addressed through initiatives such as Gender Matters. I am proud to be a female filmmaker working with a core production team of women, and to be documenting subjects whose stories are too rarely shared. In telling the stories of a diverse cross-section of women, my hope is that IANB will change perceptions of underrepresented communities, bring a human face to difference, and prompt audiences to more closely examine their views and bias.
IANB doesn’t have an agenda. Rather, it is an observational documentary that provides a snapshot of the lives of four women at the time of their weddings. Historically, marriage has had less to do with love and more to do with trade and the possession of women. In this film, it was important to me to speak directly with women, and give voice to their ideas. I wanted to include a diverse range of women, from politicised backgrounds that are too regularly spoken for. As Australia struggles to agree on what defines marriage in our country, I felt it important to include Dalia, a lesbian woman. It may surprise Australian audiences to learn that Catholic Mexico, Dalia’s home country, has legalised gay marriage. At a time when Islam, and particularly Muslim women, inspires a lot of debate, I wanted to include Benay, a Turkish Muslim woman. Although Australia is fast becoming a secular nation, I decided to include Anna, a devout Christian who is somewhat of an outlier in the culture. I also felt it important to speak with Luthanlu, a Naga woman from North-east India, whose wedding is symbolic of the many shifts her tribal community have undergone in the past century. None of the casting is tokenistic: Luthanlu is an Indian woman, not the Indian woman. The individual stories and quirks of each woman are explored in their journeys, from Anna’s love of bargain-hunting to Benay’s close relationships with the students she teaches.
Wanting the film to act as a mouthpiece for the women it represents, IANB is narrated by its four protagonists. Stylistically, the film has the same narrative arc as almost every romantic comedy: we are introduced to the characters, there’s a tension, and the film climaxes with a wedding scene. This being a documentary, those parts are played by real people.
In the increasingly globalised world, we are striving to understand one another and there is a need and desire for thoughtful reflection on our traditions and our similarities and differences.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
This film is a timely piece in Australian discourse. The two major themes of the film – women and marriage – are both hot button topics of discussion at the moment and so we believe that the film will hit a cultural nerve and engage and entertain audiences by contributing to the conversation.
Broadly speaking we will have a strong marketing and distribution focus on women and women’s groups, particularly women in the arts and film, feminist and university groups. We will also be approaching men and boy’s groups, which are growing in number, as there is a desire to engage on these traditional topics and come to an understanding and empathise with the experience from both sides. We will also engage the LGBTQIA community. Topics raised in the film of gender roles are increasingly being defined and redefined. Two women are married in Mexico in the film, which is an interesting contribution to the current Australian same-sex marriage debate. Some may be surprised that we are behind a country often characterised as conservative Catholic.The topics covered in the film also have a huge following in the public discourse. Religion plays a varying role in every woman’s story, from devout to atheist. Religious groups will be engaged to come to screenings, particularly in Australia. Anna, a young Australian woman, is part of Melbourne’s devout Pentecostal Christian community. This is perhaps a unique perspective for the majority of people in modern Australian society. The marriage and bridal industry is also a huge market in Australia and around the world, and will be a core audience target group.
To engage these audience groups, we will use our extensive distribution and publicity experience to engage both traditional media outlets and reach audiences directly online. Over the next year before the film’s release, the festival trailer and press materials will be finalised. This will be used to create our online and social media branding and outreach campaign. We also aim to focus our marketing campaign on the ethnic and cultural groups represented in the film that span four continents from India, to Mexico, Australia and Turkey. Travel aficionados and bloggers will also play a role in writing about the film to their audiences. Our social media campaign will include a photography series asking audiences around the world to submit an image of themselves holding a placard saying “Marriage is ….”, explaining what marriage means to them. Connecting everyone by the hashtag #iamnobird, this will be a powerful display of expression about this tradition. A big part of the international marketing of the film, will be gained from exposure through the international film festival circuit. The diverse cultural representation, opens up a tremendous amount of possibilities for consideration on the international film festival, educational, theatrical and broadcast markets.