FREEDOM SHADOW follows a high school senior ready to explore her independence on prom night. However, when tensions rise at home between her brother, who recently converted to Islam, and her catholic family, both siblings learn a harsh lesson about the price of freedom.
Inclusion StatementWe are a multi-cultural female creative team (writer/director, producers, cinematographer). As collaborators with distinct American identities, our film shines a light on families who are often left in the shadows based on race, religion and class, but deserve to be heroes in our stories.
About The Project
FREEDOM SHADOW is about a family redefining itself after one member returns home with a new faith. It's the World Cup, Ramadan and Prom Night...the Caban Family is celebrating all three.
The film brings us into a busy evening at the Caban household. For Naya and her mother Pamela, it's Prom Night, one of the major rites of passage before college. Naya preps with Pamela while her grandmother Mami obsessively watches the World Cup. Meanwhile her brother who recently came home from prison on house arrest has another night stuck home. While in prison, he discovered a sense of purpose through finding a new faith: Islam.
At the core of the story, we follow the relationship between the Caban kids, Naya and Abdul. Estranged siblings, tensions erupt at home as Naya gets ready for prom. In her seeking for independence, Naya makes some questionable decisions which Abdul learns about while waiting for her to come home. When he believes she may be in danger, he must make a decision: break his house arrest and sacrifice his impending freedom or ensure that his sister stays free.
For me, it is important to make this film because it showcases people who are too often left on the margins and are unlikely heroes dealing with universal concerns about sacrifice, family, and individuality.
Our film explores the dynamics within an interfaith family and the impact of prison on a young man who choses a new religion while incarcerated. Currently in U.S. correctional facilities, 80% of prisoners who find faith convert to Islam because of the positive sense of community, guidance and purpose within the faith and Quran.
As a first generation American, I was raised on the South Side of Chicago by Indian immigrant parents, but speak more Spanish than my family’s mother tongue. My experience as an American with a multi-dimensional cultural background, I gravitate to telling stories that explore the grey areas of our identity and our desire to find out what we are really made of and desire to be.
We have a dynamic production team led by female filmmakers. Our cinematographer Lorena Durán (https://www.loreduran.com/) and producer Ashley Deckman (https://www.ashleydeckman.com/) are two incredible talents from NYU that I'm proud to have as key collaborators, classmates and friends. And my fantastic mother, Rekha Tobaccowala serves as a producer bringing her experiences about raising a new American family to our story. We all strive to showcase the power of women collaborators and tell stories which are both courageous and beautiful that can captivate and challenge audiences.
We are so fortunate to have two incredible creative design partners: Aaron Crosby (https://www.aaroncrosbydesign.com/) for Costume Design and Chen-Wei Liao (https://www.chenweiliaodesign.com/) for Production Design.
I am so proud of our broader team of collaborators who are professionals in their crafts and bring the full story to life through costumes, sets, music and more. Visit the team page to see our whole crew.
WHAT WE ARE ASKING FOR:
Filmmaking is a privilege that our team is so fortunate to have, it takes a village to support one film. We are asking for the bare minimum to make this project a reality. Our team is working tirelessly to cover costs through our own funds and resources, but your support will allow us to make this an incredible film. We've already raised about 50% of what we need and looking for help to cross the finish line and head into production in late October.
Thank you for considering our project! We are grateful for your support of the arts!
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About This Team
Ria Tobaccowala (writer/director)
Ria Tobaccowala is an Indian-American Filmmaker from Chicago. Ria is a thesis student pursuing an MFA in filmmaking at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. At NYU, directed a short film, LIFE AFTER, which was selected for several film festivals including Sarasota, Cleveland, Florida, Outfest Fusion, March on Washington and recently was award best fiction short film at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival. Ria also produced 10 short films, included in festivals such as New Hampshire, Cucalorus and Comic Con. Ria is a grant recipient of the New Hollywood Emerging Voices program and member of the Producers Guild of America Student Program.
Before graduate school, Ria began her career at Google. With a passion for storytelling and technology, she led the development of social web experiences and innovations using Google products with content partners, such as The New York Times, ESPN, Fox, NBC, The Food Network and Sony. Ria produced the 2015 YouTube interview with President Obama. She received her bachelor's degree from Harvard University and MBA from NYU Stern School of Business.
Lorena Durán (director of photography)
Lorena Durán was born in New York and raised in Dominican Republic. She recently finished her last year for the M.F.A. in film with a concentration in directing/cinematography at N.Y.U.’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she was awarded the Purin Foundation Scholarship and Tisch School of the Arts Scholarship. Prior to enrolling at Tisch, she worked in feature film productions for 4 years and studied music for 9 years, specializing in classic guitar. She directed, shot, and edited her first short doc, Fronterizas, which was a finalist for the 2014 Sundance Institute Short Film Competition, and worked recently as Director of Photography for the NYU thesis feature film "Release" directed by Adel Morales.
Ashley Deckman (Producer)
Ashley Deckman is a Manhattan based filmmaker. She entered the film industry in 2014 as an intern for Filmsters, a small production company in her hometown, Annapolis, MD. From there she quickly worked her way up to Associate Producer on two hit TLC reality television shows. Since moving to NYC in 2015, to pursue her MFA at Tisch School of the Arts, Ashley has produced over 12 short films, a web series, and won the 2018 Media Service Award for Producing. Her latest film "Career Day," that she directed in 2017, is currently on the festival circuit and has won several awards including, "Best Director" at the Capitol Hill Film Classic Festival and launched online via SHORT OF THE WEEK. Ashley loves working with like minded creatives who share her same passion for story telling.
Rekha Tobaccowala (Producer)
Rekha is an award-winning marketing communications professional. She received the coveted Silver Anvil Award at Edelman, the world's largest PR firm. She then worked as a teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where Rekha told stories to her young students and helped them act in their own plays. Her passion for listening to diverse voices and story telling led her to work as a producer with her daughter, filmmaker Ria Tobaccowala. She holds a Master of Arts from the University of Minnesota and a BA from the Grady School of Journalism of the University of Georgia.
Aaron Crosby (Costume Design)
Aaron Crosby is a costume designer for Film/ TV, theatre, and any narrative/ fashion adventures that come his way. He is more than thrilled to join the creative team of Freedom Shadow. Most recently you can see his work in Summer Knife written/directed by Webb Wilcoxen, Nice Girl by Molly Gandour, Balloonistry by Swetha Regunathan & Ari Halevy, Nowhere by Lin Que Ayoung, Far Beneath the Avs. by Alfonso Hererra, Scene Work by Nicolas Colia, and Hasim October by Swetha Regunathan. With many projects in pre-production he looks forward to what his collaborations will create. He received his MFA in Costume Design for Stage & Film from NYU TISCH in 2018.
Chen-Wei Liao (Production Design)
Chen-Wei Liao is a New York City based scenic designer origins from Taipei, Taiwan. She received her B.A. in Drama and Theater from National Taiwan University and M.F.A. in Scenic Design from Carnegie Mellon University. She has diverse experiences in theater, feature film and exhibition both in Asia and United States. Growing up in bilingual and a multi-cultural environment, she is interested in observing and creating the connection between people, stories and space.
Eisenberg/Beans Casting (Casting Directors)
Eisenberg/Beans Casting is a fast-paced casting office for theatre, film, new media, television, and commercial. Daryl and Ally create a comfortable space for actors to take risks and re-imagine their potential as artists in a progressing industry. Eisenberg/Beans Casting connects talent to clients with thoughtfulness and vision while maintaining an efficient and enjoyable process for the artists on both sides of the table. Partners: Daryl Eisenberg, CSA and Ally Beans, CSA. Casting for film, theater, television, commercials, and new media. Broadway: Gettin’ The Band Back Together. Off-Broadway: Baghdaddy, That Bachelorette Show, The Anthem, Around…80 Days, Altar Boyz, and more. Regional/Other: Folger Theatre, Bedlam’s Saint Joan/Hamlet on tour, Dallas Theater Center, Norwegian Cruise Line, Ivoryton Playhouse, Tenors of Rock, Davenport Reading Series, countless NYMF/Fringe. Film: Cheerleader, Evol, Chandler, Camp, Mulligan.
Artemis Shaw (Assistant Director)
Artemis Shaw is a Greek-American filmmaker from New York City. Her most recent short, Aquaculture, about a cult-like biotech start-up, premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival. Her documentary, Single Room Occupancy, about a former Bond Girl battling gentrification in Harlem is available online on Short of the Week. Above all, she loves to collaborate with and support other female filmmakers; she began her career as a researcher on the women’s lib documentary She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry and was assistant to Josephine Decker, associate producing her 2014 film Thou Wast Mild and Lovely. Most recently, she associate produced Tayarisha Poe's Sundance Labs film Selah and the Spades, currently in post-production.
Artemis is currently a thesis student at NYU and Head of Creative Development at the NYU Production Lab. She graduated with honors in Art History from Columbia University and has an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business.
Philip Musey (Unit Production Manager)
Philip is a writer living in NYC, currently working in content marketing. He has written three feature films, a four-act play, and a handful of short films, one of which he is producing / co-directing in 2019. Here is his personal website, and his content website for a look at some of his select works.
Larry Zhang (Key Grip)
Larry is a Chinese filmmaker working in the New York City, pursuing a career as a director. He works as G&E for freelance. After living in the U.S. for five years, Larry is always searching for a middle ground, somewhere between China and America, somewhere free and comfortable. Making film is his way to unpack and repack those experiences.