Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Film Interview: Made in Qatar Filmmakers

In Ajyal Youth Film Festival, I attended the briefing for the Made in Qatar Directors. The room was packed with all those awesome talented people, but I only had the chance to talk to few. Those who were there and the ones I managed to see their film before the interview. I managed to talk first to Maryam Al Sahli, director or Tboy:

KM: I just saw your film and it’s really good and I wanted to ask why did you choose this kind of a story?
MS: I was participating in a workshop by the New York Film Academy and it was my graduating project. We had a month of excessive film training courses with them here in Al Jazeera training center and the film was written in two hours, filmed in six hours and edited in six hours because we were supposed to do it in a very short time. This wasn’t the story at the beginning. I had a different story in mind that I wanted to do, but because of limited resources, so I talked to my lead character Zaki Khan who is playing Sam and he said he would act for the film and we sat down together to develop the story and write the script. I chose the concept about people who are tricked by those who use them and that’s a story I wanted to tell. Zaki on the other side developed the character and that’s why he played it so well and it was his first time acting and first time writing a script and I’m very proud of him and I truly owe it to him to have this film made.

KM: I know you personally and I know how you made films in university, but the stuck with editing and you’re one of the best I know, so what made you go back to filmmaking? Is this your new path or you’ll still be editing?
MS: I started with directing documentaries in collage to understand all the aspect of filmmaking but after graduation I found out that the part that I enjoyed most was post production. I joined Doha Film Institute as an editor and started editing films and just my luck I was the only female Qatari film editor and I still think of myself as an editor first and director second. But I want to direct again, so hopefully there will be a second and third time.

KM: So, do you have a story you would like to make it as a film? One that you will take more time one and develop it more?
MS: This is the first time I’m saying this, it’s Kemz Movies Exclusive: I have another film in the writing process. The script is almost over and I’m working with friends one it.

Then I got the chance to talk to director of Lumière, Aisha Abduljawad.

KM: Your movie is experimental and it has a lot of play with black and white footage and sounds, why did you choose that kind of direction?
AA: I took a film class at Northwestern and most of our classes are about classic filmmaking like animation, drama and documentary. Then they offered an experimental film class and I was intrigued because it’s something I never experienced before. So, I took the class and it was about exploring architecture, which is something I am interested in. We traveled back and forth between France and Qatar and because of that class I decided to do an experimental film.
KM: And after making the film, do you like experimental or the classic filmmaking more?
AA: Well, I prefer the experimental style as a filmmaker because you can have complete creative freedom without having to limit yourself to a storyline. With experimental you also don’t think about the reception amongst critics at all or whether the audience enjoyed it or not, it’s all about brining new ideas and giving them the reason to question, for example the notion of architecture in this film. However, classical style of filmmaking still has a special place and its fun.

KM: So what do you want the audience to take from your film?
AA: Just to think outside the box when they’re looking at their own creative ideas or just about what they see everyday. This film for example discusses the idea of architect through time. So we begin in the 1800s with old mosques then it goes into current places of knowledge.

And last but not least, Ali Al Ansari, director of Qarar, winner of actress excellent performance and Special Mention from the jury.

KM: Why a Zombie movie? I know everyone must’ve asked you this, but I have to ask.
AA: I think Zombie movies are different and pops out more than the other genres here in Qatar and I believe that in the Gulf we lack genre movies; zombies, sci-fi, horror. It’s something fun and entertaining as well.

KM: The movie is set in Qatar, however it’s so empty. There is no one fighting on the street and the buildings are empty, why?
AA: The story is set in like four or five years after the zombie apocalypse. We don’t see smoke on the sky or anything. It’s all calm and quite. That’s why you only see that guy. That was the idea for the movie.

KM: I really enjoyed the movie, it was made really well and I really liked the zombie make up. That was better than so many movies I’ve seen.
AA: For the zombie make up, we used on set makeup and a lot of CGI, which was the first time I ever used it, so I was a bit scared in the beginning. On the computer it looked good, so I can’t wait to see it on the screen. Using CGI is actually new to us in Innovation. We used it before in Lockdown and it was a good experiment that we learned from and now we used it for Qarar. We also used it for the location, because it was hard for us to find a place for a zombie apocalypse in Doha, so for the Doha skyline and for some additional shots that we needed to cover.

KM: For the story, you choose to make it a drama more than an action thriller, why?
AA: The zombies are just a distraction and a twist to the actual story, which is the human side of it, the drama. I have this exercise if I had a story and changed the setting what will happen? So if I took a drama story and put it in a drama movie, it stays the same, but if I put it in another setting what will change and I wanted that setting to be with zombies. So, it worked somehow.

And all the films worked for sure. I’m just so happy to see how much the filmmakers in Qatar have evolved and year after year they are getting better and better! Thanks to all the director and I'm sorry I couldn't meet the rest! 

All the best for them and till again with a movie review!

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