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The families of Bachara, located in central India, still adhere to an ancient tradition: making the family’s oldest daughter a ‘courtesan’, who also becomes the primary breadwinner for the family. Times have changed, the palaces where the courtesans used to dance have vanished, but daughters are still forced to submit to this age-old tradition. Only, with a turn for the worse; 12-year-old daughters are pushed by their fathers to the side of the highway to prostitute themselves to passing truck drivers. The film traces the 10 year-journey of one of these eldest daughters, an independent-minded 16-year-old girl named Guddi Chauhan struggling to realize her dreams despite the constraints of a centuries-old tradition. She and her sister Kilawadi - “the one who plays” - sit by the roadside every day in a cluster of other girls wearing brightly colored saris, waiting for one of the trucks roaring by to stop and solicit her business. However at 21, Guddi refuses to work as a prostitute any longer, bringing down the wrath of her father and brothers. Can Guddi choose her own life and not yield to the pressure of tradition? Highway Courtesan powerfully raises questions about gender, sexuality, marriage, family, and celebrates freedom of choice and dignity by portraying women who resist being exploited in the name of ‘tradition’. (Nam In-young)
Mystelle BrabbéeMystelle Brabbée
Mystelle Brabbée received a B.F.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She holds the position as the Artistic Director for the Nantucket Film Festival (a festival for screenwriters and storytellers) where she has curated the film program for the past nine years. Previously Brabbée was the Director of Acquisitions for “article27”, a London based firm known for obtaining rights to independent niche films, and syndicating them to Internet portals and video-on-demand providers. Brabbee is currently working on her second documentary about three Lottery winners in the US titled Lotto.