ACF Asian Cinema Fund

Asian Network of Documentary(AND) Fund

2015 Asian Network of Documentary (AND) Fund

LIST Marriage Cop
Category Dongseo Asia Fund
Project Marriage Cop
Director Shashwati Talukdar, Cheryl Hess
Country India
Director's Profile From 1999, Shashwati Talukdar began working in film and television as an assistant editor for Michael Moore. Since then she has edited projects for HBO, BBC, Lifetime, and Sundance. Her recent films include the prize winning Please Don’t Beat Me, Sir! (2011) and Wall Stories (2014). Her work has screened at venues including Busan International Film Festival, Margaret Mead Festival, and the Whitney Bienniale. She has received grants from the Asian Cine Fund (ACF), the Jerome Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts, and the India Foundation for the Arts. She lives and works between Taiwan and India.

Cheryl Hess’s work has screened at festivals all over the world including the Tribeca Film Festival, Silverdocs, and the Tampere Film Festival. In 2001, she was awarded a Fulbright grant for production of a documentary in Colombia and in 2005 she was the recipient of a Pew Fellowship for her work as a filmmaker. In order to support her doc-making habit, Cheryl works as a television producer/director and cameraman. She currently resides in Philadelphia.
Marriage Cop is a feature-length documentary that examines the state of marriage and family relationships in contemporary India through the eyes of a police officer whose assigned duty is to help settle marital disputes at the Women’s Help Desk in Dehradun. A counterpoint is provided by the stories of the women who go to the Help Desk seeking relief from domestic troubles -abusive spouses, deadbeat dads, and interfering mothers-in-law- the Help Desk sees it all. Will these women resolve their marital woes or will they wind up in divorce court? The first question that Marriage Cop raises is “Why are people going to the police for marriage counseling?”. But perhaps a better question is “Why do women want this?” The story of The Help Desk will challenge audiences′ preconceived notions -about India, about domestic violence, gender roles, and about the very notions of marriage- and what it means to help.
Director's Note
Marriage Cop came about because of a brief conversation Cheryl and I had about the recent dramatic headlines about the violence against women in India and the way Indian women are frequently portrayed as helpless victims in the press. We wanted to find a way to explore these complex issues without making a “victim film” and go beyond the sensational stories that were featured in the headlines. We realized that we had found the perfect subject in Officer Krishna Jayara and her work as a de facto marriage counselor at the Women’s Help Desk in Dehradun. Police stations inherently interesting places. Hang around a police station for a few hours and something is bound to happen but the Help Desk itself offers a microcosmic view on the state of women, marriage and relationships in contemporary India as a whole.
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