How my film is actually everybody’s film

How my film is actually everybody’s film

February 24, 2017 | Author: Rucha Humnabadkar, Director of the new film, "For Here or To Go?"

For Here or To Go? is the first of its kind: humanizing the immigration debate by focusing on the millions who live in uncertainty while striving to achieve the American Dream.

Release on March 31, 2017
Release on March 31, 2017

First, I’d like to thank M.R. Rangaswami for bringing our community together, and for screening my film at a previous Indiaspora forum. Indiaspora increases the visibility and influence of Indian Americans to get them actively engaged in the community. It creates a platform to help shape successful dialogue about important issues that affect our community, immigration being a critical one. As a person of Indian origin this film is my way of contributing to our community in the U.S. to ensure the next generation has a strong platform to achieve success and has equal opportunities.

The film is a humorous and sensitive take on humanizing the highly complex issue of immigration and brings to light that it’s not all about policy and quotas. People’s lives are thrown into a vortex of uncertainty and big life decisions hang in the balance. We see this play out through the lives of the characters in the film. The film mobilized teams across two continents and our original score is a reflection of these efforts and our cultural amalgamation between the U.S. and India. The film has played at 17 film festivals worldwide.

Fourteen years of struggle to achieve U.S. citizenship made me passionate to share my story. ‘For Here or To Go?’ has enabled me to show the world first hand what an immigrant experiences at an emotional and intellectual level while assimilating in a new culture and building a home away from home. Many of the scenes in the film reflect my own personal experiences, as well as those of my friends and family.

We had phenomenal grass roots level support from the Silicon Valley Indian community. A shining example of this was when a townhome became unavailable the morning of our shoot and we went door to door in a Fremont complex along with actor Omi Vaidya, to find a new location. In less than an hour we had four homes ready to lend their space. Of course having Chatur of ‘3 Idiots’ fame be our spokesperson gave us a boost. In addition, people offered their homes to house cast and crew and also provided transportation during production to ease logistics. Most of all, Indian business owners of tech companies, restaurants and grocery stores provided their locations for important scenes in the film. This film is a true reflection of the Indian community coming together to tell our story of the challenges and successes we experience. It took long hours, perseverance and rallying large groups of people to get this film made. It’s time for it to be seen and get support from the broader Indian community to push it to a worldwide audience.

There has never been a more important time for this story to be told than now. Given the current climate of immigration, we must stand together. Many immigrants are founders of today’s most innovative companies in the U.S. Indians have contributed a disproportionately large amount — 16% of immigrant founded start-ups — despite being less than 1% of the U.S. population. The film celebrates this accomplishment.

I had the privilege of screening ‘For Here or To Go?’ at the Indian embassy in Washington D.C.  Mr. Arun Kumar Singh said, “…what really touched me about this film is that it looked at it from the angle of the individuals involved, their challenges of settling down in a new country, new society, new environment, and the uncertainty they faced. I enjoyed the film very much and I am sure all of you will be able to look at this whole issue from another perspective.”

 

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For Here or To Go? – Omi Vaidya (Brown Nation, 3 Idiots)

 

For Here or To Go? - Melanie Chandra (Code Black), Ali Fazal (Furious 7, Fukrey)
For Here or To Go? – Melanie Chandra (Code Black), Ali Fazal (Furious 7, Fukrey)

 

We are fortunate to have received tremendous support for the film from respected business leaders in the U.S. — Instagram’s co-founder, Mike Krieger said, “I feel like it’s a story not just worth telling, but it’s been told now. It’s worth seeing.” We also have received support from Brad Feld of Foundry Group and Dave McClure of 500 Startups to help release the film.

Our goal to take it to 100 cities in the U.S. and an international roll out. It’s paramount we go beyond the diaspora audiences to bring about real change. I believe this film will resonate with a global audience and add a much needed authentic perspective to the crucial immigration debate we face today. This film reiterates the values we stand by, and we need to uphold, express and spread those values in our society.

If we don’t tell our stories, no one else will. – Mira Nair

‘For Here or To Go?’ releases in the U.S. on March 31st, 2017 (one day before the H1B lottery).

If you’re interested in finding ways to support this film’s release, please click here.

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Contact us at manycupsofchai@gmail.com for a private screening.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Rucha Humnabadkar is known for her work on acclaimed Indian filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor’s indie hits Hyderabad Blues, Rockford and Bollywood Calling, as Assistant Director and Art Director. Her short film Arranged Marriage features in Smithsonian Asian Heritage touring exhibit “Beyond Bollywood.”

For Here or To Go? is her debut feature film.

Connect with her on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn