Attiya Khan’s Indiegogo campaign isn’t your average fundraiser. She isn’t offering to make you a potato salad and she doesn’t want to turn your favourite teen detective drama into a movie. She wants to end violence against women. No small feat, right?
But Khan, a veteran Toronto advocate and counsellor for abused women and children, is up to the challenge. And she’s taking a unique approach to the problem (one that affects one out of every two Canadian women). The first-time filmmaker is herself a survivor of domestic violence perpetrated by a former live-in partner. In order to tell her story, she’s giving the stage to the man who abused her for two years. Her goal is to find out why he did it and how he justified his violent treatment of her as the abuse continued.
Khan asserts that she has faith in an abuser’s ability to change. Two decades had passed when she ran into her ex-boyfriend — his name is Steve — on a street corner in Toronto. She asked him if he would talk about what happened between them on camera and, shockingly, he agreed.
“It took courage for him to talk to me about the things he had done,” Khan says. Steve told her he wished that he could have “been a better man,” and from there a documentary took shape.
A Better Man, hopes Khan, “will tell our story, while also bringing to light the incredible work people are doing with men who are hurting others.” The project has reached 99% of its $75,000 funding goal on Indiegogo and has some big name backers like Feist (who donated $10,000 to the cause), Oscar-nominated composer Owen Pallet, and director Sarah Polley (she’s acting as the film’s Executive Producer). Even Pearl Jam got in on the action, sharing the video Toronto singing sensations Choir! Choir! Choir! made in support of the project (check out their version of the band’s song below) on their Facebook page.
You can also watch some initial footage Khan has assembled for the campaign. Her message is a timely and urgent one for Canadians, especially considering the recent news surrounding one high-profile radio talk show host and a pair of politicians, all accused of harassing and abusing women.
“I’m making this documentary because I’m tired of hearing non-stop stories of pain and hopelessness,” explains Khan, “I can’t keep just listening to these stories. I need to do more.”
If you want to do more too, you can contribute to the project here or donate to one of the many organizations working to end violence against women here.