Diversity and Inclusivity:
Aniyah is an atypical children's film with a feminist theme. The director - Shubhavi Arya is from India and specifically identifies with Asian/ Black culture and values and the challenges it takes to succeed as a women (ex. being a minority and underrepresented in various fields). The film revolves around the life of a mother and her daughter and reflects how the Asian/ Black culture of caring and respecting one's parents and elderly is valued. The film is loosely based on a true story about a family in Singapore. The film reflects the director's culture and identity interweaved in an Western/ American setting.
‘The film reflects the director's culture and identity interweaved in an Western/ American setting.’
I have built my film production team with inclusivity in mind. I chose to create this film with primarily women and persons of color as the crew and cast of the film. I made sure to create the film with underrepresented minority talents to foster a culture of inclusivity. My film has brown people (Shubhavi Arya, Saatvik Arya from India), hispanic-native american cast (Kyli Nault), black people / African descent cast (Darion Jones, Leakina Jones) and female cast and crew (Iris Seifert, Melissa Paakh, Elizabeth Couture, Leah James, and Kelly Handevidt). We also had 3 male cast and crew (including Timothy Herkenhoff who identifies as White) to have a diverse group. Some of the cast and crew also suffered from a mental disability and it was very important to us to have the perspective and working culture throughout shooting that embraced experiences from all walks of life.
‘It was very important to us to have the perspective and working culture throughout shooting that embraced experiences from all walks of life.’
The film has an American white family and setting in which the Asian / Indian / African culture and values are embedded. The film follows loosely the true story of a family in Singapore ( where a daughter takes care of her mother and asks her mother to live with her once she grows up - it is typical in Asian and African countries to take care of one’s parents later in life and live with them ) .
‘The portrayal of love, respect and care is a universal phenomenon that we embedded into a white American setting and embraced Asian/ Brown/ Black culture and values.’
The film’s plot revolves around an American white family ( a father - Robert , mother - Suzanne and little daughter - Aniyah) who live in a small village in a cabin due to economic hardships. The father moves to the city in search of work leaving his family behind - Distances harden between the Robert and Suzanne and Robert starts an extramarital affair and divorces Suzzane while convincing little Aniyah to move with him to the city and leave her mother behind. Once Aniyah grows up, she reveals that she only moved with her father so she could send money and support her mother - Suzanne. At the end , a 25 year old Aniyah comes back to her village and asks her elderly mother to move to the city with her and takes care of her the rest of her life for the love and care her mother provided her and the hardships she endured. This way of respecting and caring for one’s parents is typical in Asian/ Brown/ African cultures and these are the values we embraced in the film while portraying a new take on this scenario by embedding these values in a White/ Western family. The film’s plot is an interweaving of multi cultural experiences and signifying how some ways and values of life are universal.The portrayal of love, respect and care is a universal phenomenon that we embedded into a white American setting and embraced Asian/ Brown/ Black culture and values.