Archive for September, 2013

September 29th 2013

Sunday, September 29th, 2013
Filmwise: Spending some time with the story of the little girl in Baghdad – need to update the treatment.
“I am here for the screening!”
A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation from a filmmaker for the cast and crew screening of her new short. The film has been selected for a major film festival and features some very well-known actors.
So, on Thursday evening, I logged off work on time and made my way to the nearest tube station. Rather than take the usual route, I decided on a new connection. The moment I arrived at the transit station, I was horrified to recognise the long journey on foot that the seemingly simple connection involved. Ten minutes later, I was on the correct platform.
At Tottenham Court Road, surging through the Thursday evening shopping crowd, I somehow made it to the post-production house in Soho, two minutes shy of 7PM.
“Hello, I am here for the screening!”
The friendly young man at the reception desk very quickly offered me a badge, and explained the signing-in procedure.
With the badge in one hand, my jacket and umbrella in the other, he directed me to the screening room.
“One level down and through the glass door.”
Once out of view, I practically leapt down the steps to the glass door.
The “Preview Room” was my port of call.
Stepping in quietly, I found the film already running.
This was a full house.
Standing by a pillar in the back, I scanned the audience in the dark for the director or any familiar faces from the film. None were to be found.
“OK, let’s watch the film.”
A few more minutes in, it began to dawn on me that the storyline couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the film I am supposed to be attending.
Back at reception, the young man looked at me inquisitively.
“What was the film you’re here to see?”
“Well, I’ll show you the invite on my phone!”
I was embarrassed to find the invitation for the Wednesday, as opposed to Thursday.
With a mumbled apology for wasting his time, I walked out into the cool September night.
Strolling through Oxford Street and Regents Street was a good antidote to the evening’s stress.
Peace and love,
Ja’far

Filmwise: Spending some time with the story of the little girl in Baghdad – need to update the treatment.

“I am here for the screening!”
A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation from a filmmaker for the cast and crew screening of her new short. The film has been selected for a major film festival and features some very well-known actors.
So, on Thursday evening, I logged off work on time and made my way to the nearest tube station. Rather than take the usual route, I decided on a new connection. The moment I arrived at the transit station, I was horrified to recognise the long journey on foot that the seemingly simple connection involved. Ten minutes later, I was on the correct platform.
At Tottenham Court Road, surging through the Thursday evening shopping crowd, I somehow made it to the post-production house in Soho, two minutes shy of 7PM.
“Hello, I am here for the screening!”
The friendly young man at the reception desk very quickly offered me a badge, and explained the signing-in procedure.
With the badge in one hand, my jacket and umbrella in the other, he directed me to the screening room.
“One level down and through the glass door.”
Once out of view, I practically leapt down the steps to the glass door.
The “Preview Room” was my port of call.
Stepping in quietly, I found the film already running.
This was a full house.
Standing by a pillar in the back, I scanned the audience in the dark for the director or any familiar faces from the film. None were to be found.
“OK, let’s watch the film.”
A few more minutes in, it began to dawn on me that the storyline couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the film I am supposed to be attending.
Back at reception, the young man looked at me inquisitively.
“What was the film you’re here to see?”
“Well, I’ll show you the invite on my phone!”
I was embarrassed to find the invitation for the Wednesday, as opposed to Thursday.
With a mumbled apology for wasting his time, I walked out into the cool September night.
Strolling through Oxford Street and Regents Street was a good antidote to the evening’s stress.
Peace and love,
Ja’far

September 22nd 2013

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Filmwise: The Cannes documentary will need more work, I have decided recently. Despite the many hundreds of hours that I have spent editing the project, I need to avoid falling prey to post-production fatigue. Before brining in other team members for this phase, I need to make certain that I have dealt with the detail of the new edit structure. More time is needed.

“Can you spare any change, please?”

En route home on Friday evening, I passed by a small group huddled around a car bonnet.

A woman in the group was holding her mobile close to the running engine, as the break down mechanic explained to the group: “It doesn’t sound happy!”

Not sure if the mobile was providing extra light, or perhaps an App of some sort was at work.

Two hundred yards later, a homeless man was adding his bit to the urban soundtrack: “Can you spare any change, please?”

On being ignored by the stream of office workers, he picked on a young man running through the crowd: “Run, Forrest, Run!”, he cried after him.

Peace and love,

Ja’far

September 15th 2013

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Filmwise: Mesocafé has screened at the Iraqi Cultural Centre, London, on Friday September 13th.

The screening was graced with the presence of Ahlam Arab (plays the role of the café owner), Caroline Jay (plays the role of the British government minister), Seamus Newham (plays the role of a senior civil servant) and Aziz al-Na’ib (plays the role of the wise and gracious car driver). Also present was Mouthanna Al-Sayegh, the online editor and colour grader of the film.
Mesocafé was the inaugural screening of the Iraqi Film Club, founded by Jamal Amin Alhassany, a director and actor whose first film role was as a teenager in Biyut Fi Thalik al-Zuqaq / Houses in That Alley (Dir. Kasim Hawal, Iraq 1977).
The organisers invested all the means at their disposal to create a good environment for the screening.
As I keep saying, in making a movie, one makes four films: the one on the page, on the film set, on the editing and post-production stage… and the one watched with an audience. For me, this final film is the most instructive, as one gets to see the story through the eyes of the audience.
An instructive experience.
Peace and love,
Ja’far

September 8th 2013

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Filmwise: Having completed the first cut of the Cannes documentary in its new post-structural overhaul version, I am taking some time off the project. Going by past experience, the project would benefit from some gestation.

Three encounters…
Walking from the office to the train station on a warm September evening last week, I was startled from my hobby of studying the architecture of buildings lining the street.
The sound of shuffling footsteps had an odd note to them.
On glancing behind me, there was a middle-aged man, in simple attire, balancing himself on the thin line separating sobriety and intoxication. He wasn’t exactly teetering from one side to the other, but more listing to his right, putting him in a short-term trajectory to walking into the path of fast-moving vehicles.
The destination of the man, however, wasn’t the immediate source of attention of passers-by. It was the orange supermarket plastic bag that was attached to his left foot. Everyone seemed to start by the plastic bag and tilt up to the man and his right-leaning posture.
Personally, I imagined that he had such giddy and walking-over-clouds thoughts, that he was totally oblivious to the bag and the stares of passers-by.
The following day, with the Indian Summer momentarily giving way to the more regular September rain and lower temperatures, I found myself trailing another middle-aged man en route to the supermarket.
The man was in relaxed attire, with comfy cotton trousers and jacket, smart shoes, and a folded newspaper perturbing from his jacket side pocket. All of this was counterbalanced by his angry voice from beneath the umbrella.
Keeping my distance to allow the man his privacy, I wan’t interested in the reason for the man’s anger. It was his affair. It was only when he stopped and glanced sideways at the passing traffic that I realised he was not talking on the phone. With the absence of any visible hands-free device, the gentleman was clearing having a mono-versation/talking to himself.
I would like to imagine  that he was a playwright, reading aloud a particularly visceral exchange between two lovers.
Finally, en route home on Saturday afternoon, I was approached by a well-spoken young lady. Motioning to what I assumed was her grandmother, she said: “Could you please take a photo of us. This is the house where my grandmother was born and where she lived until she was six.”
I knelt by the sidewalk and framed the two generations of women with the steps and black door of the elegant townhouse.
Walking away, I tried to imagine how much the young lady looked like her grandmother when she was young.
Peace and love,
Ja’far