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Charlie Watts, a young filmmaker based in Manchester, has created a powerful short documentary called STRIVE, which tells the story of Idris Ahmed, a refugee desperate to improve his life, and that of his family.

Ahmed, originally from Somalia, was born into violence, with civil war ravaging his country.

In the film, Ahmed recalls his early memories from Somalia. “I was seeing the majority of the time dead people,” he says. “It becomes normal when you are hearing gunshots every night.”

In boxing, Ahmad found a way of channeling his anger and pain, and coping with these challenges. Now a young man, he dreams of taking his passion in life to the next level. “I am at a point where I have something, and I want to achieve great things,” he says. “I’m gonna keep going.”

“I just want to live my life to the fullest,” he adds.

“I am at a point where I have something, and I want to achieve great things”

STRIVE beautifully tells the story of Ahmad’s journey from childhood to adulthood in the UK. The film captures the challenges of dislocation and the resilience and perseverance of refugees.  It is set to premier in London next month.

You can find out more about Charlie’s work on his website: http://www.charliewatts32.com

DOCUMENTARY FILMS

Aamir Khan: The snake charmer – Witness

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Aamir Khan is one of the most popular and influential Bollywood actors in India today. He became a star of Hindi cinema in the 1980s, and his greatest commercial successes have been the highest-grossing Bollywood films of all time.

Yet in 2012, Khan’s career took an unexpected turn. Together with a childhood friend, he created a TV series called Satyamev Jayate which became the first prime time TV show in India to expose the country’s most critical social issues – from rape to female foeticide and dowry killings.

Aamir Khan was used to portraying macho men on a quest for vengeance and belongs to an industry accused of denigrating women and encouraging sexual violence.

But now, the 48 year old actor with Peter Pan charm risks his career by challenging men to re-examine their attitudes and behavior towards women, confronting the spiraling wave of gender-based violence in India and defying age-old stereotypes.

The snake charmer follows Khan on a journey through India’s TV and Bollywood film industry, as he attempts to change the way Indians perceive and treat women.

From the set of Satyamev Jayate, the film follows Aamir Khan backstage to his new Bollywood blockbuster Dangal.

Khan’s quest ultimately opens a window into a country in crisis and into the changes it is undergoing.

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Arts & Culture

Kenyan-Somali, black, Muslim and Canadian: new doc explores Canada’s hyphenated identities

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Short documentary ‘Hyphen-Nation’ by 22-year-old Torontonian puts five black women in conversation

A new documentary by a 22-year-old Toronto filmmaker is analyzing what is means to be an immigrant in Canada.

Directed and produced by Samah Ali, Hyphen-Nation features a 14-minute conversation between five women of colour that is inspired by her own cultural experience.

The women discuss how their cultural heritage influences their identities as Canadians and immigrants.

“The whole conversation is what’s your hyphen?” explained Ali, calling her debut film a “nuanced” discussion about what black Canadian identities look like.

“And that’s what opens it up to so many people to identify with because whether it’s themselves or their family members who have an immigration story, everybody typically has a hyphen.”

The women are asked if they identify with being black Canadians.

Ali explains this is both liberating and tragic. She identifies as a Kenyan-Somali woman, along with a Muslim woman and a black woman.

“I don’t know if I identify strongly as a Canadian, but definitely when I leave Canada I identify as a Canadian,” she said despite being born and raised in Toronto.

“The other parts of my identity, the ones that are more visible, the ones that I practice everyday are definitely the ones that are on the forefront of my mind. Compared to my Canadianness, it’s something that I’m not really aware of until I have my passport and I’m travelling to other countries.”
Sojin Chun, programmer for Regent Park Film Festival, says the short documentary captures the theme of the festival.

“We really want to show different narratives that you wouldn’t normally see through other means, through the mainstream media,” she said.

The three day event is free and showcases the work of women of colour which reflects Toronto’s east end neighbourhood.

“We really make sure we represent all the cultures that are present in Regent Park,” said Chun.

Ali explains this is why she wanted Hyphen-Nation to premiere at the film festival.

“I want this film to foster a greater community, not only in Canada, but also worldwide.”

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Movies

‘A Girl From Mogadishu’: Aja Naomi King leads female empowerment story

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DEADLINE — EXCLUSIVE: Principal photography has begun on Pembridge Pictures and Umedia’s A Girl From Mogadishu starring How To Get Away With Murder‘s Aja Naomi King. The female empowerment film is a true story based on the testimony of Ifrah Ahmed, who — having escaped war-torn Somalia — emerged as one of the world’s foremost international activists against gender based violence. Mary McGuckian (The Price Of Desire) is directing and wrote the script. Filming is underway in Belgium before moving to Ireland and Morocco. Check out a first-look photo of King as Ahmed above.

Martha Canga Antonio (Black) and Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) also star with Somali icon, Maryam Mursals.

Ahmed was born into a refugee camp in Somalia in 2006 and emigrated to Ireland as a teenager. Recounting her traumatic childhood experiences of female genital mutilation when applying for refugee status, she is re-traumatized and vows to devote her life to the eradication of the practice — taking her campaign all the way to the President of Ireland and finally to the European Parliament and United Nations.

McGuckian calls Ahmed “just an immensely inspiring person and her story speaks to all of refugee status, sexual violence in conflict, gender based violence, the asylum system as well as FGM. Fundamentally, A Girl From Mogadishu celebrates the power of testimony. How, when women find the courage to stand-up, speak out and tell their truth, the impact can be more than inspiring and empowering, and act as a meaningful catalyst for change.”

A Girl From Mogadishu is a Pembridge (Ireland) and Umedia (Belgium) production, with production services provided by Dune Film Productions in Morocco. Post-production will take place at Windmill Studios, Dublin and Umedia VFX, Brussels.

Produced by McGuckian and Umedia CEO Adrian Politowski, Headgear & Metrol Technology present in association with Premier Picture and The Exchange, a co-production with U Media and Screen Brussels, produced in association with Bord Scannán na hÉireann (The Irish Film Board).

Executive producers are Tom Harberd, Phil Hunt and Compton Ross for Headgear; Anastasia Garret, Jason Garret and David Rogers for Premier Picture; Peter Bevan, Nadia Khamlichi, Tatjana Kozar and Gilles Waterkeyn for Umedia; Lesley McKimm for the Irish Film Board; Brian O’Shea for The Exchange; and Ifrah Foundation board members, Emma Beanland and Caroline Keeling.

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