DIFF Daily 2011

Interview: Iman and I

Dec 08,2011 - 10:57 PM

Esraa Aboushahin catches up with Khalid Shamis, director of IMAM AND I (Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentary)

Explain what is the relation between Imam and yourself?

Imam is my grandfather from my mother's side. He was killed in 1969, in police custody in Cape Town. He's left quite a strong legacy in Cape Town, as a hero. I was born in 1975, I never got to meet him. There were so many stories around his death and his legacy, I wanted to find out who he was as a grandfather, so I set out to make my next film about him and ended up being in the film myself.

How did you approach the subject of the film – you’ve used a number of interesting approaches, such as animation.

In 1979, there was a book written about my grandfather called 'Killing of the Imam', and on the cover, there was this lithograph of a man falling down a flight of stairs. So, as a boy I grew up with this image of him and people telling me stories of how great he was. This image of him, these stories sort of justified the animation in the film.

Is there a reason you choose to focus on documentaries in your production company?

I initially came to Cape Town to make a documentary and subsequently, worked on documentaries more and more. Generally, the film industry in South Africa has a lot more growth in documentary films because there are so many stories that people want to tell. So I ended up working in the documentary field, as an editor mainly. I mean, I have written a feature film, but I think my main focus is on documentaries. It's where I find myself.
Where else have you screened ‘Imam And I’?

It premiered in South Africa at Encounters Film Festival 2011, where it won the best film and audience award. It also showed in the Tri Continental Film Festival and Netherlands Film Festival, and I’m waiting for other international film festivals to see if they want to show the film. But this is its premiere in the Middle East.

What do you think of the Muhr AsiaAfrica Programme?

I think it is an amazing section of the festival. I mean, this is a Middle Eastern festival but the focus on African and Asian films is quite an interesting part. My film is the only documentary from South Africa so I’m happy to be representing my country.

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