One of the things we love most about the African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival in Milan is meeting people.At the Festival there are no barriers between the artists, the public and the staff: sometimes you run into each other after a screening or at the bar, and you find yourself talking and sharing experiences with people from all around the world.
Moments like these are the perfect occasion to get to know our international guests a little better and find out what drove them to produce their art: some of them have always dreamed of giving a voice to the powerless and others found in cinema a way to express their creativity; some want to convey something about their culture through an image and others love to observe how people behave from behind the door; some wish to amaze people and others aim at representing an ideal society.
We asked 11 guests of the Festival’s 28th edition to tell us what made them pursue their career of directors or photographers, and what’s the message they want to convey most through their works.
AHMED FAWZI SALEH – director
When I was a child, I dreamt of becoming Robin Hood. I wanted to steal money from the corrupt rich to distribute it to us poor folk. But that childish dream failed. Then I wanted to become a political activist who would call for the rights of us powerless folk against the corrupt government. I failed with that too. I finally found the right place for myself when I decided to become a filmmaker.
Still, it marks an important moment in the history of Egyptian cinema, where working-class women can be represented on screen without being denigrated, where the exertions of men and women working in inhumane conditions are heroized not vilified, where the underbelly of capital in Cairo is laid bare for all to see. This is not a film about the 2011 Revolution, and it remains distant from official/street politics, but it is already a revolutionary landmark in the cinematic representation of the working classes in Egypt.
KHEDIJA LEMKECHER – director
I always felt the need of expressing myself and I tried to do it through poetry, photography, writing, until I found my favorite medium in films. I was also inspired by films and directors that made me want to become a director myself.
What I try to do with my films is making people feel an emotion, making them smile and cry, conveying a message with a critical eye and maybe changing minds a little, all by telling stories.
MOSTOFA SARWAAR FAROOKI – director
I have a voyeur in me. Maybe my urge to know what’s going on behind the windows, doors, and walls of the city made me a filmmaker.
What’s the message I want to convey? I think messages are like under garments. It remains secretly hidden under many layers of clothes. And in every film, you have many messages or moods or moments to deliver. So it’s difficult to say what message I want to deliver through my works. If I have to go for a generalization, I would say all my works probably sing a song of tolerance and freedom!
GIUSEPPE CARRIERI – director
What drove me to become a director is the quest for an antidote to boredom, and the constant belief that curiosity is the only tool that keeps us alive. Directing isn’t a job to me, but a positive life sentence, a healthy way to take yourself less seriously, to look out, to touch slightly until one day you feel the thrill of having something to say to other people.
I wish that people, after watching my films, felt all part of the same universe, and I’d like them to be amazed and impressed by what they see. My final aim is to amaze, the most precious remedy we have left so that we never stop loving the world.
NOHA ADEL – director
I’m a big fan of cinema since childhood and a dedicated cinema goer. I’m a very good storyteller, I excel in telling interesting simple daily life stories about people that I know or people that I meet, so I thought in 2017 to start changing my place and officially take the seat of the “teller” and not the “listener” of the story and I started attending a brief workshop in Cairo about the introduction to directing.
It’s the simple daily human ordinary stories that happen to us that form a great story that’s worth sharing with people around the world. It’s both inspiring and entertaining.
Noha Adel, Egyptian, directed Into Reverse, from the African Short Film Competition. The film won the ISMU Prize to the best short film with educational value.
The film is distributed in Italy by COEmedia Distribuzione Cinema.
SIWA MGOBOZA – artist
Africadia is a response to the world we live in. I imagine a world where race, gender and sexuality (labels) are transcended and we stop talking about the ‘other’ and start talking to each other. A world where love and acceptance are the core of the society and the values of it are expressed by the Beings who inhabit it.
Siwa Mgoboza is a South African multifaceted artist.
MOUFIDA FEDHILA – director
In the beginning was the Image! The world of shapes and moving images has always fascinated me since childhood, it was my shelter where I escaped from the reality of my hometown Mahdia. Back then, I lived in my dreams and hopes.
I still remember the first frame of The Kid by Charlie Chaplin, it stills fascinates me. I feel like quoting Truffaut: «I make my dreams come true and I’m getting paid to do it, I’m a film director!».
To me, making films means creating my reason to live, my strength. It’s a way to explore all possibilities, to transgress, to question, to make people think and to transcend life. According to Robert Filliou, «art is what makes life more interesting than art itself».
Here’s how Michèle Cohen-Hadria describes my work: «the artist observes the slow changes in human beings, as alchemies that evolve in the athanor of the world, where the director perfectly identifies the key levers of our contemporary societies».
Moufida Fedhila is the Tunisian director of Aya, the winner of the African Short Film Competition.
The film won because it’s “A story that speaks of courage and the need, more topical than ever, to have concrete answers to the ‘whys?’ that our existences convey. The film is set in Tunisia, but the force of is female characters and their tenacity in never stopping asking questions can, we hope, take place everywhere.“
VASHISH SOOBAH – director
In my documentaries I always try to portray some elements of my culture, in order to give viewers a chance to learn something new, and create a sort of cultural exchange.
I’m using the audiovisual language because once you shoot a film, the story it remains fixed. For example, after shooting Nanì I knew that my grandma would never die, because she was immortalized in those 12 minutes.