Filmmaker crowdsources to fund queer film project

City-based independent filmmaker Malini Jeevarathnam is seeking public contributions to complete her upcoming film.
A still from Malini’s documentary, Ladies and GentleWomen; (inset) Malini Jeevarathnam
A still from Malini’s documentary, Ladies and GentleWomen; (inset) Malini Jeevarathnam


Twenty-nine-year-old filmmaker Malini Jeevarathnam rose to fame a few years ago through her documentary film, Ladies and GentleWomen (2017), produced by ace director Pa Ranjith. The documentary, which traced the lives of a lesbian couple, was aimed at shedding light on queer women so that they are not subject to honour killings, Malini had said in the past. The 47-minute long film went ahead to stand as the best documentary at various international film festivals in 2017 like the Norway Tamil Film Festival, Pune International Queer Film Festival and Chennai International Rainbow Film Festival. Now, for her upcoming film project, the filmmaker has decided to travel off the beaten path by taking to crowdsourcing as a means to fund the film.

The as-yet-untitled next project of Malini’s will also be a documentary that will revolve around the lives of queer people. “The movie will be a bilingual one — in Hindi and English. While the film’s pre-production and production work have been completed, I’m looking for funds to finish the post-production process. My idea of crowd sourcing was a way of seeking support from the queer community during filmmaking,” admits Malini, who came out as queer a few years ago. The film will explore the lives and happiness of queer people through their stories, she adds.

Through the crowdfunding initiative on the digital platform Milaap, the filmmaker is looking to raise a total of Rs 2,75,000, to cover the post-production and other costs. “We are looking to submit the documentary to various film festivals. Through this crowdfunding drive, I’ve noticed that a lot of LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) people also making their contributions for the film, which is heart-warming. Each contribution will not only be helping independent filmmaking, but also in bringing out the stories of queer persons,” asserts Malini, admitting that it was not very common for a filmmaker to seek for funds through the audience. Pa Ranjith, with whom she had worked for his film Madras (2014), has also been promoting Malini’s crowdfunding campaign through social media.

Crowdfunding as a means of raising capital has been pursued by very few in Indian film industry. Manthan, a 1976 Hindi film by veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal, was the first ever crowdfunded Indian film. The movie, based on the White Revolution in the country led by the ‘Milkman of India’ Verghese Kurien, was financed by 5,00,000 farmers, who donated Rs 2 each.

Malini says her filmmaking will be dedicated to giving a voice to the oppressed and the marginalised communities. “I see filmmaking as a responsibility, and not just a passion. I want people from the marginalised sections of the society as protagonists in my movies,” she stresses. 

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