Girls are being treated like they’re an infectious disease. Millions disappear every year – many are victims of infanticide, sex slavery and child labour. Fortunately, there is a cure: education.
Writer: Justin Via
Director: Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri
Producer: GK Reid
Girl Epidemic is an epic story of girlhood facing the darkest impulses of the human psyche. These tiny heroines make us ask: what would we do if we were them? What will we do to help save them?
My passion for empowering girls was awakened by childhood experiences, as I was raised in Calcutta. Volunteering with Mother Teresa, I experienced the life-changing power of love that even the tiniest person can wield. As a teen international model/actress I returned to India to co-found Shakti Empowerment Education Foundation (SEEschool.org), where I had to learn to help survivors become heroes and help others. My understanding deepened working with 20 NGOs and with the UN, and I was inspired by Anand Mahindra and project Nanhi Kali which supported the creation of Girl Epidemic.
Lacking budget, producer GK Reid and I raised a small army of volunteers through Facebook. From directing films including Girl Rising starring Freida Pinto and Priyanka Chopra, and Crescendo: Beats of the Beautiful Game, a short on girls’ sports, we learned to encourage non-actors to bring the richness of their life experiences to the screen. We shot with real girls at risk of trafficking, in their homes on top of a refuse dump outside Mumbai. We were able to connect emotionally, to overcome language barriers and achieve filming objectives through the power of play.
My directorial style is as a collaborator: I encourage improvisation to add emotional honesty, and use as much realism as possible, thriving on flexibility, contrasts, characters and beauty in the chaos. My vision is to create a quixotic, danger and hope-filled dreamscape that reflects the characters’ inner life. To provoke viewers to laugh, cry and to hope, to join our protagonists in finding their own potential, to help others and fight for their fundamental human rights to freedom.
Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi encouraged us to build upon this short to create a feature film version to maximize awareness against trafficking. Join us!
About Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri
Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri is an Indian-Canadian “rad feminist director” (Jezebel) and photographer. Known by a single name for her “iconic imagery and visionary storytelling” (Huffington Post), Indrani’s work is described as “dynamic … at the crossroads of pop culture and critical acclaim” by the Lincoln Center, which presented her major exhibition ICONS.
Collaborating with global influencers and the most marginalized, her work explores the intersection between mythology and reality from diverse perspectives. Her films have won 25 awards including best picture and best director at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, two Gold Lions at Cannes Festival of Creativity, and best film at the CNN Expose Awards for Girl Epidemic about the millions of girls missing in Asia due to sex trafficking and female infanticide.
Born in Calcutta, India, as a teen Indrani co-founded SEEschool.org, providing education and vocational training for over 300 women and children. Then, while a student at Princeton University, her work was discovered by David Bowie, before she graduated with a magna cum laude BA in anthropology.
Indrani has collaborated with artists from Lady Gaga to Beyonce, Kate Winslet to Keanu Reeves, and brands from L’Oreal to Pepsi. She is the recipient of significant press recognition from major media outlets, and is frequently asked to speak at institutions such as Harvard, Princeton, New York University, Carnegie Hall, the Center Georges Pompidou and the United Nations.
Her work can be viewed at indrani.com.