Interview with filmmaker Hani Eskander (OH MY OH AGAMI)

Hani Eskander’s poetry short film played at the best of Under 5min. Short Film Festival in January 2016. A film filled with a lot of feeling and emotion that the audience truly loved.

I recently chatted with Hani and talked more about the film:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Hani Eskander: Agami, sort of was like the Miami beach of Egyptians… Lately, it has been almost unrecognizable. This poem started as a conversation on Bianchi beach, on of the famous spots of Agami, between Mohamed El Tayef, a talented and witty contemporary poet from Sohag who wrote and delivered the tribute. and myself. Having lived most his life in Agami, the poem had an instant nostalgia and subtle anger tone that appealed to me and I thought was very relevant. The musical score and special effects were later done by Ali Sedky, who is also a composer living in Agami, and that is considered his first film score ever.

Matthew: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Hani: I think at most about a week. It all happened very fast and the approach to shoot was very basic without a lot of crew. I was the crew basically. Principal shooting happened over 2 days and editing another 2 days… Music took another 3-4 days.

Matthew: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Hani: Difficult to answer such a question but I’ll give it a try… Thoughtless Destruction.

Matthew: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Hani: Thank God I was lucky with this film and everything happened too smoothly. Both Love and Having a clear goal in mind, made the process very simple and quick. Also, when one’s intentions are clear… things sometimes just easily fall into place, which happened with Tayef approaching me with his poem, to him suggesting his son as his younger self and also finding a great talent such as Ali Sedky, the composer, who was a definite addition to the narrative.

Matthew: What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Hani: Almost surprised that this film isn’t on my iMac at home, not even in the cyber world… Here are actual people, physically there, physically commenting and reacting to something I had created earlier at home, almost alone. I loved what most had to say and I cannot descrivbe how happy it makes any filmmaker I’m sure, to watch audience feeling and reacting to the film he/she helped create. It’s a very reassuring feeling… that film is powerful… it DOES transcend space and time and gets a message and an emotion through very well.

Matthew: Where did you find your two lead actors who played the younger and older version of the same person?

Hani: The Older version is the poet himself… He was a little camera shy, but how intimidating could one man behind a camera get? So, I convinced him that it’ll be simple and easy and that I have my storyboard shots in mind already and promised I won’t take much of his time… As for the kid, his younger version, well that kid happens to be his son. So, it was no problem at all. I didn’t get to choose the kid, as a director would usually do, I saw him the first day of shooting, when Tayef promised to bring his kid. I had no options and believed that things will fall nicely into place… and they did.

Matthew: What film have you seen the most in your life?

Hani: Well, many. Narrative films: Forrest Gump, JFK, City of God, The Corporation (documentary), The Century of the the Self (documentary), TPB (Documentary), Whiplash,… honestly many many others but these come freshly on the top of my head.

Matthew: What is next for you? A new film?

Hani: Yes, I have a 45mins film, a documentary as well, called “Drifters” a story of an orthopedic surgeon from Agami and how his close relationship to the sea, philosophy of life, firm principles and passion for woodwork led him to rediscover his true potential away from what most societies call success routes. On his journey he encounters kindred spirits who flock together in pursuit of happiness, freedom and self-expression. This film is done and right now also in festival circuits. And there’s another feature doc, which is currently in production called “Wa Agami”, which is a depiction of Agami, since the 1940s until today and the constant metamorphasis that the town went through, which is a microcosm of what’s happening socially, culturally and politically in Egypt.

 

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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