The European Independent Film Festival 2022
8th - 10th April 2022
Section: Arab Special Selection
Salma, a 15-year-old Iraqi countryside girl, is sexually assaulted. She decides to defend herself but finds herself facing a very difficult choice that will change her life forever.
Hello Mohammed, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?
Thank you for this opportunity with The new current, as you know it’s not easy to hold up during this situation, all the time is going to the research, writing, developing the strategies to expect the next steps and also to prepare for the next film production and preparations, its fine in the end.
Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?
Yes, it has done, the Covid-19 situation and after it gave me a great opportunity to develop many projects like the training projects and next film project script writing and developing and it’s a situation to think about and think how we can expect the future and what is the best ways to stay safe.
Congratulations on having UNSPOKEN, which is your debut short film as writer/director, part of the 17th ÉCU Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be screening your film in Paris?
It means a lot for me to screen my first short film with its first European screening in the 17th ECU film festival in Paris, this is something special for me as a film maker because the festival is well rated in the European film festivals, and this will be good opportunity for the French audience to watch the film and know more about the story and the life in the Iraqi countryside.
"The most valuable lesson I have taken away from Unspoken is to try, I will always try my ideas even if it will be strange or difficult as this can help to make the ideas more real and authentic."
Can you tell me how UNSPOKEN came about, what was the inspiration behind this film and what was the message you wanted to convey with it?
In fact, the film is focused on not falsifying, even though some consider the film a fragment of deep sadness only from the countryside, but it is precisely this sadness that I experienced in my childhood that pushed me to make this film, I do not want to make propaganda or promotional films even if we need them, Others will certainly make it, but I focus on making the film that represents me and makes me live, feel in the labyrinths of the picture and the battlefield of truth and the ability to the reveal.
Essential important and complex questions, the most important of which is what happens if a minor girl is sexually assaulted by her father? In the world not just in Iraq? What happens if a woman is treated as an instrument or a tool that fulfils the needs of men only? Certainly, I am not a lawyer for women, but they mean a lot to me as a human being. Humanity necessitates that I at least tell the truth, and the truth will be revealed with the passage of time, and the tyranny of falsehood will not be above it, no matter how great and exalted it is.
Due to the powerful social narrative that UNSPOKEN has, did you have any apprehensions about making a film that touches on such an important issue?
As I said earlier, I am not a lawyer for women but I am trying to unmask what is kept silent about what is not announced to the public. Some believe that women in the countryside have a natural right not to have any entity, which I completely oppose. I was a witness to the death of Women in the countryside in every moment they live with men, in every situation they try to reveal and they can't, every day she sits wearing a cloth around every small part of her head, her leg, her hand until her eye sometimes because she is naked as they think, isn't she a human, doesn't she have the right to live with dignity, to live with a decision, I always repeat my own principle in life, a person does not own anything in this world but his word and his dignity.. With this principle I can say that women do not own anything in the world in the countryside, because in many cases their dignity is taken away and they can't even refuse, even reveal, with their only revelation! You can imagine.
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced bringing UNSPOKEN to life and looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?
Because it is the first project, of course there will be many challenges, the first and main one is to have good enough crew with good experience, with a small connection it’s not easy thing to do, also it’s not easy to lead and control this crew and actors especially with the first time actors, I don’t know exactly from where I had this ability to lead this project, it was like jumping from the plane without any idea about what will happen and without any safety belts
Where did this passion for filmmaking come from?
From the image, when I see for the first time the photo and when I took the first polarised photo, it was something like magic, how the camera is powerful to record the life with these colours and quality, and how it’s amazing to record part of your life and the others life and keep it for the future, from there my passion in filmmaking came from.
How much has your approach to your films changed since your started out and what would you say has been the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making UNSPOKEN?
Every day many things are changing with my approach to my films. It’s an important thing for me to increase and develop my filmmaking skills and abilities and because this a lot of things in my approach to my films have changed. There is much more deeper experience, production mentality and knowledge. The most valuable lesson I have taken away from Unspoken is to try, I will always try my ideas even if it will be strange or difficult as this can help to make the ideas more real and authentic.
Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the stories they want to tell?
For me I’m trying to always to push the boundaries of my stories to the last and deepest point and I don’t like the rules. I hope to always find my own rules and ways to shoot my frames and ideas as we all need to develop our ideas and ways of production, we don’t need to copy or duplicate what has already been done, it is vital to see new original stories and filmmaking techniques.
For anyone thinking about getting into filmmaking do you have any tips or advice you would offer them?
Just four words, Transparency, Clarity, Credibility & Teamwork.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from UNSPOKEN?
I hope the people will take the entertainment from the film Unspoken, and to support the films narrative and the main character Salma.