Happy to say that after a long hiatus from directing, the Ontario Arts Council has awarded me a grant to produce my next short film, about sisters trying to escape their indentured servitude in an underground sweatshop in the US. It’s a story of border walls and harsh immigration policy, about people who struggle in fear just to have a chance at a better life.
Beneath Us is a cautionary tale of what can happen when migrants looking for a better life are vilified and forced to live in an “underground” economy. People need to feel what it’s like working in a factory, lost in a life of debt and poverty, making the things we touch and wear everyday. This is the disconnect I’ve been trying to bridge with my films, first by being the second generation immigrant bringing viewers to back to my mother’s home country as I did in My Cultural Divide (2006), and now bringing the factory literally into our backyard. Do we choose to treat factory workers differently because they live a world away? Or is it that we don’t care where things come from at all, as long as they are cheap and plentiful?
I want to bring this dystopian but all too real world to screen, and fill it with believable characters with relatable human dreams and faults. Sometimes a fiction film is capable of allowing an audience to experience the reality of something better than a documentary, and this is what I hope to do with Beneath Us. The factory in the short may not exist within the borders of the United States or Canada, but the result is the same – workers are exploited and then ignored by the people who gladly buy the things they make.
OAC is only supplying some of the funding so our team will be reaching out to the community to try to finance the rest of the budget. Contact us through this website, and we’ll definitely keep you up to date when we start our crowdfunding campaign.