At the heart CHILD is a universal story about how hard it can be to be a new mum; it takes a delicate look at postpartum depression and explores how women often struggle with it in silence. Talia Zucker is 1 of 8 directors selected for the Directing Workshop for Women at the American Film Institute.
Inclusion StatementCHILD is told through the lens of the Hasidic community - a community rarely given voice to on our screens. Helmed by a female director, CHILD hopes to bridge a gap in our understanding of a culture that exists somewhat on the periphery of society through its universal narrative about motherhood.
About The Project
WHAT IS CHILD ABOUT?
CHILD follows "Gittel", a young ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman living in her community in Los Angeles. Gittel has recently had her first baby, and while her family are overjoyed, she herself is struggling with her new role as a mother - something that has been expected of her from a young age. In the midst of her struggle, Gittel makes a terrible but desperate decision and abandons her baby in the local playground. Finally, and with no choice, Gittel is made to confront her obligations when her child is returned to her.
As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors I was born and raised in a progressive Jewish family. Although my level of religious observance has wavered over the years, I have always felt a deep connection to the Jewish culture and to its people.
Talia on her Bat Mitzvah
Growing up in my suburb in Melbourne, I would often see members from the Hasidic community walking through the streets. Their dark mysterious clothing and deeply pious way of life was always so fascinating and intriguing to me. Their interpretation of Judaism was so different from my own. I felt connected to them and yet separate at the same time.
But perhaps the image that has stayed with me the most, was when I would see young girls from the community, no older than 12 or 13 years old, pushing their sibling's strollers through the streets. They struck me as "little mothers" in the way they carried themselves with such maturity & responsibility... Like they were already being groomed for motherhood.
It's an image that has stayed with me over the years and serves as the inspiration for CHILD...
*images for reference only
Family is integral to the Hasidic culture; it is it's backbone and it's livelihood. A women's role in orthodox Judaism once she is married, is to care for the house and the home, raise the children and follow strict practices; and these tasks are highly valued. It is culturally expected for orthodox women to follow the commandment found in Genesis: "be fruitful and multiply" and most women feel happy & fulfilled in their prescribed role.
It did get me thinking though... What it would be like for a woman who didn't connect to that role? Or didn't connect to her baby? Would she seek the help she needed? Or would she suffer in silence for fear over not living up to the expectations of her family, her community and its value systems.
It's an idea I really connect with and one I find cinematically rich and compelling...
Image from Felix and Meira, directed by Maxime Giroux, 2014
Image from Fill the Void, directed by Rama Burshtein, 2012
In making CHILD, I hope to tell a truthful, authentic story; one that doesn't pass judgement but simply observes the action. Perhaps you're thinking why I feel this is my story to tell... And I completely respect that opinion. For me, the most powerful thing about being a filmmaker is you have the immense honour to shed light on an experience that is often not seen; or give voice to someone who perhaps can't tell their own story. And I hope to, in some a small way, do that here with CHILD.
This project presents some production challenges... There are a lot of kids, babies and multiple locations. But I believe that through the guidance and support of the DWW and most importantly YOUR support we can create something really special; a unique world told from a uniquely female perspective, that is rarely seen on our screens.
WHAT IS THE DIRECTING WORKSHOP FOR WOMEN?
I have been given the wonderful opportunity to participate in the Directing Workshop for Women (DWW) at the American Film Institute. To be selected as one of only eight directors across the US is just nuts! So I feel very lucky. The program has been running for over 40 years and seeks to increase the number of women working in screen directing. The tuition-free program has immense resources and support but we are required to raise the full budget of the film (in total 20k) which is why I am asking for your help.
Notable AFI alumni: Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman, Monster), Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank, American Honey), Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), Drake Doremus (Like Crazy, Equals), Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond), Terrence Malick (Tree of Life, Badlands), David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive), Rachel Morrison (Black Panther, Mudbound), Charlie McDowell (The One I Love, The Discovery), Zal Batmanglij (The East, The OA).
HOW CAN I HELP?
Thank you so much for taking an interest in our film!
- You can like this page! Click the <3 top right!
- You can like our Facebook page, and if you'd like to help a little more you can share our crowdfunding post with your friends & family either via Facebook or email
- You can donate to our production. Any amount is welcome, and much appreciated
Your donations may be tax deductible! The American Film Institute is a Government recognized 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization, and holds tax exempt status. Donations made toward the film may be tax deductible under Section 170 of the U.S. Tax Code. Seed and Spark will send you an email confirmation with your donation that you may use as evidence for a tax deduction.
WHAT IS THE MONEY FOR?
Good question! Here are the major areas we'll be putting the money we raise towards:
- CREATIVE ADVISOR. We have already started working with actress/producer Melissa Weisz. Melissa grew up in a Hasidic community of Brooklyn, NY and has agreed to be our creative resource on the film so we can really honor the Hasidic world of the film. Melissa has already donated a lot of her time but in order to keep working with her we need to raise some funds
- LOCATIONS. We have a number locations in the film; two apartments, a local playground, some local streets... these all cost money to use
- STUDIO TEACHER & NURSE for our infant cast member "Leah". She is in a number of scenes and we need to have these guys present at all times
- COSTUMES. It is paramount that the Hasidic world of the film feels authentic - religious garb and daily clothing are very distinctive in these communities. and our costume designer will need a budget to work with to dress our cast appropriately
- SCORE. We are very lucky to have Australian composer Helena Czajka on our team. One of her tracks is playing through our pitch video! You can listen to more of her beautiful music here: https://soundcloud.com/helenaczajka/sets
- OTHER AREAS: catering, camera & lenses, sound design, hard drives, festival costs. See our WISHLIST for more info
WHAT'S THE PLAN FOR THE FILM?
Our script is just about ready, and we're piecing together our team as we speak! We'll go into production in July in Los Angeles, then straight into post-production. We're aiming to have a cut of the film by the end of August. Then we'll continue with post in the second half of the year -- sound mix, score, colour grade etc.
Once it's completed we'll start submitting to festivals! The final film will be screened in an annual Showcase for agents, managers, producers and executives at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles.
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
Talia Zucker (writer/director)
Talia Zucker is a filmmaker and actor originally from Melbourne, Australia. Her sci-fi screenplay In Vitro was selected for the 2016 Sundance Screenwriters Lab and is also in development with Screen Australia. Zucker studied film at Monash University and UC Berkeley, and studied theatre at the Moscow Art Theatre School. In Australia, her acting credits include: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, Neighbours, Killing Time, City Homicide and Dirt Game. She also starred in the feature film Lake Mungo, which screened at SXSW and the Busan International Film Festival.
Zucker is currently writing a screenplay for Arclight Films and recently completed her short film Afterwards, which she wrote and directed. She has twice been nominated for the Heath Ledger Scholarship.
Will Jaymes (producer)
Will Jaymes is an Australian filmmaker and actor based in Los Angeles and is a recent Sundance Institute fellow. He wrote, produced and performed in the feature film Beast, which screened at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, and created The Sellers for MTV Australia. Jaymes has participated in Australia's prestigious AURORA Lab and was shortlisted for the Inside Film ‘Rising Talent Award’. He was also a Runner-up in the Heath Ledger Scholarship as an actor. He studied at the University of Sydney where he obtained a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts.
Matilda Comers (executive producer)
Matilda Comers is a co-founder of production and talent management company FICTIOUS. Previously, she was the Marketing Director for LA-based industry association for Australian filmmakers, Australians in Film, where she was also the Program Director of the Heath Ledger Scholarship.
Helena Czajka (composer)
Helena is an Australian APRA Screen Music Award nominated composer who writes music for films, documentaries and TV shows. After receiving First Class Honours in a Bachelor of Music (Composition) from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Helena worked as a music journalist for Limelight Magazine, before moving to Tokyo in 2013 to spend a year working as an orchestrator on Japanese feature films and video games for renowned Japanese composer Yoshihiro Ike.
On her return to Australia, Helena began composing for Australian productions. In 2017, Helena composed the music for seasons one and two of Australian Survivor on Network Ten – for which she was nominated for an APRA Screen Music Award for Best Music in a Television Series. She also composed the music for the documentary series The Queen & Zak Grieve on Foxtel’s Crime & Investigation Channel, TV series Look Me In The Eye on SBS, and the documentary Making Muriel for the ABC.
Helena’s feature film projects include her work as composer and music supervisor on the international film festival hit Beast (TIFF premiere in 2016) directed by Tom and Sam McKeith and her work as assistant composer on Stephan Elliott’s feature film A Few Best Men (2011).
Helena is currently composing the music for the Australian feature film Chasing Comets.