I think Kerim is too much of a gentleman to shill for his own project here on Savage Minds, so I’ll do it for him: consider donating to help him wrap up production of his film Please Don’t Beat Me Sir.
For just about as long as I’ve known him, Kerim has been working on PDBMS, about a stigmatized Indian tribal group who try to forge a future for themselves be performing street theater dramatizing their plight and other social justice issues. He’s been going on about the project for years, and most of the time I nodded my head politely and was like: yeah whatever street theater blah blah South Asia blah blah. I mean: some guy get a perfectly good Ph.D. from a respected university, moves to job in the ass-end of Taiwan, and then spends most of this time ranting on the Internet about Gramsci and editorials in the New York Times — and now he’s got some ‘documentary film’ he’s making. Really, what’s the chances of it being any good?
Except a few months ago I managed to get a sneak peak of the film and was pleasantly surprised that it is not just good, but actually very very good — which made me feel a lot better about asking my students to sit through the thing for extra credit. I repeat: it’s good. By any standards. To me the greatest part of the film is that it managed to convey on screen the immediacy and power of live theater, something that it is almost impossible to do. The ethics of the film making project are equally fascinating: it’s a film about Chharas not by them, except that they are performers so in a sense it is by them. It’s something less than ‘collaborative anthropology’ of the Lassiter mold, but also something more in its willingness to experiment with a form that goes beyond the usual cliches of sharing and caring with your host community.
Plus also there is a point at which someone puts a hand over the camera and you get to hear Kerim go all Michael Moore on people and demand in his New York accent “no you tell us why we have to stop filming.” So, you know, it has that going for it.
If you go to the movie home page and donate US$35 you can get to watch the film. But really, if you’ve ever appreciated all the work Kerim has done for Savage Minds, I think the donation site will accept way less than thirty five bucks. The money will be used to burnish up the final edit so that it can be shown in prime time at the Busan film festival.
As a policy we don’t make announcements of this sort on SM but I wanted to make an exception in this case so that Kerim can feel some of the SM love that he’s accrued over the past couple of years and his excellent film gets the support it deserves.