While documentaries are not revenue generators as traditional movies, they can have a far different impact upon their completion which is largely based on their community engagement. We intend to use this documentary film as a tool to initiate community dialogue about many of the themes are are illustrated in the story. It is from this dialogue that inspiration and idea development towards Social Change will begin.

We will conduct a tour of local Colleges and Universities and have a screening of the film for students and faculty followed by a discussion with a panel of professionals in higher education, law enforcement and community development. Below are a few institutions that we intend to screen the documentary during first phase of its initial run.

Phase 1 - Colleges and  Universities - FALL 2016

  • Southern Illinois University (Carbondale, IL)
  • Columbia College (Chicago, IL)
  • Drake University (Des Moines, IA)
  • Central College (Pella, IA)

Themes in the Film

There are a variety of themes illustrated in the narrative of Lovely’s story.

Empowerment - Lovely, once passive and reserved, finds the strength and courage in herself to challenge and fight the establishment, challenging some questionable practices, inconsistencies, and mistreatment in the case of her son. Although it’s been a daunting task, she’s making considerable progress, gaining support from an ever-growing community of supporters. While there’s still a much work to be done, Lovely has made substantial progress. .

Awareness - We entrust people to do the right things, especially our elected officials and law enforcement. Lovely’s story reveals some of the repeated practices by the officials in Carbondale that many people in the community find alarming. Prior to Lovely’s story, members of the community had no idea of how these types of cases were being handled. Telling Lovely’s story really brings a heightened level awareness that is needed, and it is from this awareness that change can happen as more and more people see the need.

This is in stark contrast to the other similar stories of deaths in the area behind suspicious circumstances that have happened in the past few years. Although the families had strong suspicions, they did not act. Nothing was done and the lives of their lost loved ones are slowly forgotten. Lovely, on the other hand, is doing all that she can to make sure that awareness is brought to the circumstances behind Pravin’s death. And it’s from the success from her efforts that 2 years later she has gained more and more momentum of community support.

Community Support - A community of people coming together for a unified cause is crucial for Lovely. The funeral director tells Lovely that she should get an independent autopsy done. This leads her to discover that Pravin’s cause of death is not hypothermia but blunt forced trauma--Key findings that have been crucial to keeping this case alive.

Her church organization along with members of the Indian community have conducted rallies, petitions, as well as the initial search efforts for Pravin. Having this support system gives Lovely the emotional support and courage that she needs to continue her search. Also, she gets a petition of 40,000 signatures of supporters who would like to see Pravin’s case investigated, illustrating just how many people feel that her journey is important.

Social Change - Once awareness is established, a move towards change is usually the next step. What change is needed and who are the agents for change? Lovely has to find this out in her journey. As events unfold we begin to see just how many obstacles Lovely is confronted with as she navigates through the traditional judicial processes and procedures. How can these processes be improved and who are the agents that can execute the change needed?

Topics for Discussion

Based on the variety of themes that are illustrated in the documentary by telling Lovely’s story we have formulated a list of topics for discussion and analysis that will be included in our Community Engagement Plan.

Law Enforcement: Standard Procedures -  There are several scenes in the film where standard procedures by law enforcement were not followed and the question becomes, “If standard procedures were practiced could this have ultimately saved Pravin’s life?” This is illustrated the most in the scene where Gaege Bethune, the last person to see Pravin alive, was accosted by a State Trooper who’d seen Gaege’s truck pulled over on the highway next to the wooded area where Pravin was found. This encounter happens on the very night when Pravin went missing.

Law Enforcement: Duties and Accountability - Pravin was found the morning of February 19th, 6 days after we went missing. That afternoon the police chief of Carbondale held a press conference stating that, “The difficult terrain and low temperatures are believed to have contributed to Pravin's difficulty finding his way out of the wooded area. There were no obvious signs of trauma that would be caused by any kind of a suspicious means or any kind of altercation. So no outwards signs that we were able to see.” His statement comes only hours after Pravin was found. No investigation had taken place at that time.  

It later is revealed by an independent autopsy as well as photos of Pravin’s body that show signs of physical altercation. With this new information coming to light, the community begins to question the intentions of the law enforcement, breaching their trust. What was the motivation behind the premature statement made at the press release? Who consults with law enforcement on what should be said and how at press conferences?

Governmental Transparency, FOIA

Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, is a prominent theme in the film. “FOIA is a federal freedom of information law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government.” As it relates to the Pravin, Lovely’s attempts to discover the truth behind the circumstances of her son’s death, documents such as police reports, autopsy reports, ambulance reports are critical. The film shows the struggle that Lovely faces in exercising her rights as a citizen to attain some of the necessary documents that will shed light on her case.

Additionally, after months of requesting police reports and findings from the investigation, law enforcement hands Lovely a stack of newspaper articles as evidence from their investigation. This brings to question as to what types of documents should Lovely have been provided? Are newspaper articles a legitimate form of official documents provided by law enforcement?  

Elected Officials: Roles, Responsibilities  and Accountability

Lovely had to learn who the key elected officials are in Carbondale as they relate to the circumstances around Pravin’s death: 1.)The role of a State’s Attorney as it relates to how criminal investigations are initiated. 2.) The role of the Coroner and Pathologist in determining the cause of death?  What are the methods used to assure proper ethics and procedures are used in certain cases like Pravin’s? When things are done improperly what are the methods of accountability?

Campus Safety

Pravin was alone at the time that he went missing. Although he was with a group of friends earlier that night, his friends departed to another location with plans to meet up later. As a result, Pravin was alone when he left to meet back up with them. The issue of safety is very apparent in this part of Pravin’s story. Although students should feel safe at all times, there should still be methods implemented to protect students in the future. What can students do to ensure their safety while being out late night on or off campus. What can the University offer students as methods of protection for students.