As a young wife, Miita finally finds comfort in her first pregnancy after enduring years of marital rape, physical violence, and mental and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband. One day she decides to take matters into her own hands to protect her newborn daughter.
About the Filmmaker
Kaenipa earned a Master of Media Arts in Film Production from University of Technology Sydney. She received training from award winning director, Alkinos Tsilimidos (Everynight…everynight, Silent Partner, Em4Jay). After graduated, she worked as a Creative Executive at GMM Grammy Public Co.,LTD on feature film projects for film director, Ekachai Uekrongtham (The Coffin, Pleasure Factory, Bare).
In 2014 Kaenipa set up Wise Lama Production and Branding Studio and currently works as a director/producer. She is the first Thai director who directed a short film for Cornetto Global’s Cupidity project, a landmark campaign for the brand’s global content. Kaenipa especially enjoys creating innovative branded content which she can work with various styles from narrative storytelling with emotive and informative elements to documentary styles, and fashion films which explore a more stylistic and inventive approaches to the content. Her fashion films have traveled and won awards at Berlin and Milan Fashion Film Festivals while her own short films have won awards in Los Angeles and Thailand and officially selected for festivals in the US, Italy, Canada, Busan, and Hong Kong. Her selected clients include Unilever Global, Agoda, Princess Cruises, Chevrolet, Colgate, Jim Thompson, and UN Global Goals.
More From the Filmmaker
I was inspired to tell this story when I came across a compelling newspaper article while on a Fulbright grant in India. The article detailed the arrest of a notorious member of an Indian street gang, who was wanted in over a hundred cases of purse and jewelry snatchings. The police assumed they had caught a boy, because the teenage suspect dressed and acted like a typical Indian boy. But it was only after several hours of intense interrogation that they realized they had actually captured a girl. She had been forced to masquerade as a boy for safety reasons, yet still she could not avoid horrific acts of sexual assault.
Though movies about street children have been done before, we have never seen a film from the perspective of a Mumbai street girl, which is why I wrote JAYA. I was drawn to this story because I wanted to feature a female protagonist who is both aggressive and vulnerable, a combination that I don’t often see in female characters onscreen. I also wanted to explore the relationship between a teenage girl and the father who abandoned her; I was particularly interested in how someone comes to terms with those feelings of abandonment.
Finding the lead actress was probably one of the most difficult obstacles we faced, as we auditioned hundreds of girls for the role, but almost all of them refused to cut their hair in the boy cut that the role requires. Luckily, Faimida Shaikh, the girl we finally chose, wore a hijab on a daily basis, and so she was fine with cutting off her hair–since no one would be able to tell the difference. In order to learn to pass as a boy, she studied and mimicked her elder brother’s behavior, an exciting task, since her mother had stressed the importance of domestic duties only, to prepare Faimida for an arranged marriage at age eighteen.
I hope you enjoy the film. I fell in love with Mumbai while making it, and I want to show others why the city’s energy, diversity, and spirit captivate me. I also want to present to the world the tireless efforts of my cast and crew, who put their hearts and souls into this movie. JAYA is my UCLA Thesis Film, and so far, it has been a Semifinalist in the Student Academy Awards, a Jury Award Winner at the Directors Guild of America Student Awards, a CINE Golden Eagle Winner, and a BAFTA/LA Finalist. We would love to screen the film in cities across the world.
AFTER WATCHING THE FILM:
Inspired by Indian Gothic greats like ‘Mahal’ from the forties and the European avant-garde films from the twenties, ‘The Girl’ is a gothic tale about the resilience of children.