When did your interest in filmmaking start and what were you doing before you became a filmmaker?
I remember when I was 7 or 8 years old, me, my sister and my cousin would run around with the family camera and make films and sketches, so I guess filmmaking has been a passion of mine as far back as I remember. But as an adult, filmmaking has always been important to me in expressing myself and my views on the world around me. It is a tool for my curiosity but also for connection to and with other people. I am constantly developing my relationship with film itself not just as a creative tool, but always trying to push the boundaries of how much more ethical, intersectional and political it can become behind and in front of the camera.
What made you want to apply for Sharp Shorts?
Since moving to Scotland, applying to Sharp Shorts has been something I kept looking forward to doing every year. Dreaming of the specific film you want to apply with is always an open road with endless possibilities that always filled me with excitement and imagination. When I thought of the idea of The Key which was in my mind for the last couple of years, a film that felt very personal and urgent in its subject matter, it made me very excited and passionate at the prospect of making it come to life and specifically through the Sharp Shorts scheme, the most exciting opportunity of making short films in Scotland. Their track record of supporting exciting and diverse stories from Scotland, made me feel confident that a story about a Palestinian-Scottish family would be embraced.
Tell us a bit about your Sharp Shorts-supported film.
My Sharp Shorts film is called The Key and it’s my first commissioned short film. It has been a passion project of mine the last 3 years and has been inspired by my Palestinian grandparents from my mother’s side. The Key is a magical realism film that explores personal and collective grief through the main character of Linda, a Scottish-Palestinian woman who, when returning to her late and estranged father’s house, discovers that her younger self has appeared in order to guide her back to her childhood memories.
What did you learn through taking part in Sharp Shorts? How was your experience working with the Short Circuit team?
Even though I am still in the process of concluding the film, I keep feeling that I am constantly learning tremendously every single day by working with everyone around me from every single person in the crew to the team in Short Circuit. Both Iria and Miriam, as the Short Circuit Talent Executives have been extremely supportive of my vision, have shared a lot of their time discussing the film from draft one of the script to this post-production stage and also have given me extremely valuable insight on storytelling in general. Also, both Rachel and Balenji have been extremely friendly faces to have around Short Circuit and always have been very supportive around anything logistical and have provided support by organising great masterclasses and exciting in person events.
What was your creative process? How did you get ready to make your film?
As the film came from a very personal place, the initial core of the process has been an emotional one but throughout each stage of writing the script and working with all the crew during pre-production, shooting and post production, I always try to get input from everyone involved in order to make the film a product of each single person of the team. In this specific case, as a process, I am trying to always re-work the film based on the material, the environment and the moment in we live in. I think only then, a film can feel fresh in its execution.
Why do you feel stories like this are important?
I feel stories like The Key expand the conversation on how diverse Scottish and British identity can be on screen. Having written a Scottish Palestinian story inspired by my own Palestinian grandparents, I want to question the specific idea of home, either as an immigrant myself here in Scotland or for people fleeing war and conflict as my grandparents did. I also felt I wanted to explore an issue as widely known and politicised as the apartheid of the Palestinian territories and the mass displacement of Palestinian people as well as their communities in the diaspora, through the most intimate lens of connecting with your own childhood self through grief and understanding. If one person in the audience feels seen while watching the film that otherwise wouldn’t, I will be extremely happy.
What are you hoping for audiences to get out of your film?
This is always a tough question to answer as I am always open to each person’s interpretation of the film and I feel it is the only part of the film process you as a director actually can’t have control on, which I try to embrace as much as possible.
What was the greatest hurdle you encountered whilst shooting, can you tell us how you overcame that?
The biggest hurdle I encountered was the pressure of time during shooting which never feels like it’s enough. I do believe that this specific restriction has been extremely beneficial to the creative process but that specific moment when you are choosing which shots you need to keep and which you need to discard and edit the whole film in your mind in the span of 5 minutes with just an hour till the last shooting day ends, can be quite a stressful but still an exhilarating experience.
What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to apply for Sharp Shorts?
What I would recommend to anyone applying is to think of a story that nobody else could direct other than you. Something that feels extremely personal but not necessarily autobiographical. A story that feels urgent to share with everyone, a story that creates the feeling in your gut that keeps you awake at night and won’t let you go till the story gets seen on the big screen. I would also recommend everyone to think of something ambitious in its ideation but grounded in its creative approach, something the reflects the world we live in or a specific pocket of that world, something political but still emotional, personal but universal.
The Key was funded and supported by our Sharp Shorts scheme, which is open for applications until Monday 29th May 2023. Find out more and apply now.
Photo credit: Robert Pereira Hind and Simone Pereira Hind