Claiming Our Voice is a short documentary film by Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel sharing the stories of Andolan, an organization founded and led by South Asian immigrant women low-wage workers as a means to support each other and collectively organize against exploitative work conditions. The film follows the women as they create, rehearse and refine acts for their first popular multi-lingual theater performance, directed by YaliniDream. Claiming Our Voice seeks to break community silence by allowing women to (literally) set the stage for how their stories will be told.
Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel - Director, Producer, Cinematographer
Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel is a Sri Lankan-American photographer and filmmaker whose projects connect personal stories to larger themes of migration, identity and movement as activism. Her subject collaborators are primarily women whose stories are ignored by the mainstream media. Samuel has produced short films for UNICEF and has also Associate Produced several documentary films for PBS FRONTLINE. In addition to creating her own work, she presents artists through her nomadic series, Visionaries. She is currently the Director of Anastasia Photo, a gallery specializing in documentary photography and photojournalism. Samuel completed her B.A. in Anthropology at New York University in 1998 and subsequently was a Peace Corps volunteer on the island of Dominica. Samuel received her Master of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs in 2005.
Photo: Conrad Louis Charles
Chitra Aiyar - Co-Producer
Chitra Aiyar is Senior Staff Attorney at African Services Committee, where she represents low-income African and Caribbean immigrants and local Harlem residents in immigration and other civil matters. In addition she is Adjunct Assistant Professor at Hunter College where she teaches on gender and immigration. Prior to becoming an attorney, Chitra was involved in international development, working at Grameen Foundation USA and serving as a Fulbright Scholar in Bangladesh with BRAC. Chitra has been an active volunteer with Andolan for the last twelve years serving in a variety of capacities including co-chair of the Board. She is currently heading up Andolan's community archive process.
Photo: Richard Maitland
Amanda Hughes - Editor
A graduate with honors from New York University's highly competitive Film and Television program, Amanda Hughes has been editing for over a decade in New York City. She edited the award winning feature length documentary No Look Pass, A Girl & A Gun, and the documentary short Act As If. In addition to her documentary work, she also edits short form projects for a loyal roster of clients including Nickelodeon, Food Network, SyFy, A&E, and USA Network.
YaliniDream - Interdisciplinary Performing Artist
Lankan Tamil Blood, Manchester Born, Texas bred and Brooklyn steeped, YaliniDream conjures spirit through her unique blend of poetry, theater, song, and dance-- reshaping reality and seeking peace through justice in the lands of earth, psyche, soul, and dream. One of the Sri Lankan Diaspora's most prominent dissident performing artist, YaliniDream's work has been performed at venues such as NYC's Lincoln Center and New York Live Arts (formerly Dance Theater Workshop), Chicago's Vittum Theater, Manchester’s Contact Theater, and elite universities nationally & internationally. YaliniDream facilitates & directs community-based theater productions and has worked with multiple communities surviving violence including those in refugee camps and war affected areas. She is a recipient of the Jerome Foundation's Travel & Study Fellowship in literature and a 2013 Artist in Residence at the University of Michigan's Center for World Performance Studies.
Photo: Jendog Lonewolf
Arooj Aftab & Joshua Valleau - Original Score
Arooj Aftab innovates off classical Pakistani, Sufi & pre-partition South Asian music, creating original compositions honoring ancestral roots,for a sound that is fresh, graceful, and musically complex. Paying homage to classical sufi legends such as Abida Parveen and Reshma; neo-soul and jazz icons such as Sade and Ella Fitzgerald; and contemporary world musicians such as Marisa Monte and Fat Freddy’s Drop, Arooj presents an original, interactive sound embraced by young and old, South Asian and beyond. Originally from Lahore, Pakistan, Arooj moved to the U.S. in 2005 to study Music Production and Engineering at Berklee College of Music. Having completed her education and now based in New York, Arooj is working as a fulltime performing artist, music composer and sound editor.
Joshua Valleau is a Grammy-nominated producer, engineer and musician based in Brooklyn, NY. He has worked with work with John Legend, Kanye West, Estelle, Snoop Dogg, Common, DMC (of Run-DMC), Cee-Lo Green, Corinne Bailey Rae, Siedah Garrett, Imani Coppola, Alice Smith, Michelle Shaprow, Res, and many other great artists. His compositions and productions have been heard on the internet, on television, on the radio, in movie theaters, and on stages around the world. He also owns and operates The Glass Wall, a private boutique recording studio located in Brooklyn.
Nisha Varia - Project Consultant
Nisha Varia joined Human Rights Watch's women's rights division in 2003. Her current work focuses on human rights in the context of foreign investments in coal mining in Mozambique. Varia has also conducted extensive research, published several reports, and carried out advocacy campaigns on migrant domestic workers’ rights across Asia and the Middle East, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. She co-led Human Rights Watch’s involvement in the development of the International Labour Organization's Domestic Workers Convention adopted in 2011. Varia's other work has included investigating women’s rights in Afghanistan and Nepal and she is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Varia worked at the International Center for Research on Women and was a Fulbright scholar to India. Varia received a master's degree specializing in economic and political development from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and earned a bachelor's degree in economics and anthropology from Stanford University.
This project is sponsored, in part, by the Asian Women Giving Circle and the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC). We thank the 247 people who generously supported our Kickstarter campaign. We also thank Poets & Writers, The Puffin Foundation, The Culture Project's Women Center Stage Festival and Queens Council on the Arts for their support of the original theatre project.