“You don’t have to leave Earth to find hell. It exists in a country called Afghanistan where girls as young as two-months-old are sold off into marriage. Coffined At 15 is my experiment in preparing a global audience to empathize with a plight they’ve never experienced…America is a country that will spend millions to save endangered species in distant lands. Why can’t they see the millions of women who are dragged like sheep to the slaughter?,”
- Filmmaker Gayatri Kumar
The iconic TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood hosted Dances With Films 2022 on June 12 – and the short drama “Coffined at 15” by Indian American Female Filmmaker Filmmaker Gayatri Kumar made a huge impact on attendees. The film was inspired by Kumar’s conversation with a child bride in Afghanistan and, as a media release for the event pointed out, it “uncovers a new perspective on the topic in a country where very young girls are sold to be married,”and – more than just a movie – it is also intended to give “Afghan refugees a medium to rise against child marriage.”
The film is set in present day Afghanistan (though it was shot in Noida, India.) Highlighting that Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world for women, the short drama follows the story of a fifteen year old girl whose father puts her in a coffin to sell her to an old Taliban soldier.
Among the celebrity guests at the prestigious Dances With Films event was industry leader E! founder Larry Namer who commented, “Coffined at 15 is a great example of how innovative young filmmakers are bringing some of the harsh realities of this world to the front of our consciousness. I applaud the team behind this film for the way in they captured the horror of modern day Afghanistan for women and presented it in a way that seemed factual and not overly politicized.”
With sensitive casting that includes actual Afghan refugees who had fled to Delhi, India after facing harassment and trauma”, the film is like nothing you have ever seen before, showcasing“real tears and fears from those who have been victims at the hands of the Taliban.”
The story behind the making of the film is as fascinating as what you see on the screen.
The spark behind the casting was that unforgettable conversation the filmmaker had with the young Afghan girl – who said she wants to be an actor “but will probably end up becoming a housewife.”
Sonia Quraishi, who herself experienced trauma as a result of the Taliban “literally went door to door to cast the film.” The crew reported that many of the refugees they spoke to feared getting involved with the film, and those who did participate “showed great bravery and wanted their people’s voices heard.”
Using people who have real life experience with the country and the trauma its people have experienced over the last decades does more than just bring realism to the screen. It also gives real life refugees “ownership and earnings over their own tears and stories, instead of having the profits go to professional actors.”
There’s much more to come from the filmmaker behind this compelling and important production.
Nicole Muj, the Founder/President of Kultura PR and Co-founder of the globally renowned French Riviera Film Festival said : “The film is the proof of concept work for the director’s first full-length drama One Day Before Being Sold, for whose pitch was named a semifinalist in ScreenCraft’s Virtual Pitch Competition. The film’s team also includes writer Amol Bahadur and executive producer Narayan Kumar.”
Not to be missed.
View the trailer at : https://vimeo.com/701290350
About the filmmaker –
Writer/director Kumar graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2021. She specializes in present-day issues, from which she creates extraordinary stories told through a narrative medium, in the realm of Hotel Rwanda and Schindler’s List. Kumar’s ultimate goal is to change what cinema will mean to the world by the next decade. She believes that it can do more than just entertain, even if it’s done in an entertaining way. In addition to the upcoming feature, she is also engaged in writing a limited series on the crisis in Ukraine and another series on the mothers of India’s martyrs.
Photos : Filmmaker Gayatri Kumar and executive producer Narayan Kumar
Photo Credit: Tshombe Sampson