Interview with Salah Abu Oun (Filmmaker)

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Apart from the film, what’s your take on Hijab?

I believe that everyone in the world have right to wear what he or she believes in due to fashion trends or religious believe and no one has the right to force anyone to have a dress code. So I’m with Hijab if the woman wants to wear it.

A Still From Short Film 'Zeinab'

The story leaves the viewers with only one question – why didn’t she walk in without hijab?

Zeinab is a rebel but not a hero and at the end of the film she decides to take her Hijab off. But Zeinab is a Muslim girl and she is part of a community and she should know better that her decision would affect her family directly. I put myself in her shoes and thought that I have three sisters and a mum. My decision would make my dad get very angry and might do crazy or violent stuff to my loved ones. Zeinab can stop believing in the meaning of Hijab but she still wears it in front of her dad to avoid collateral damages.

So for me there are many layers to oppression and I wanted to say at the end of the film that Zeinab has a double life now like many of the Muslim girls who live in Europe.

What inspired you to helm this film?

I live in London and I have two children a 10 years old boy and an 8 years old girl.  Once I was taking them to school and I saw a Muslim’s man with his six years old daughter. She was wearing Hijab. Then I asked myself, what will be the little girl answer, if her friends asked her about Hijab. I imagined her embracement, her struggle to fit and the bullying that she might get subjected to within the school.

How was your experience to work with a abled girl?

It’s first time for me to work with differently abled girl Natalie. When I met her first time during our auditions for the film, she liked the story very much and I liked that. Then I told her you will play this character. She was so happy then she asked me about her hand;’’ is it a problem to act like this’’ she said. ‘’Don’t worry I will do some changing in the script!’’ I replied, which I did.

She was brilliant during the filming and her hand situation served the story and never affected our work.

What you want to say to all those budding short filmmakers who are striving to turn their vision into a film?

From my experience, film maker should talk a lot to others (friends, family) about their idea and listen to them carefully. You don’t need to change the story but the conversations will add details, flesh and fine touches to the characters and the story-line.

How did you come across Whatashort and What you have to say about us / the online platform?

It’s first time I apply to Whatashort via Filmfreeway website.  I would like to thank all the people and institutes who are behind the success of Whatashort India international film festival. I am very glad and happy to be win the Best Short, Hers category. This award will push me to do more regarding women and children issues in film and in life.

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