Interview with Filmmaker Fahim Hamid (COUNTY)

COUNTRY was the winner of BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT at the March 2022 POLITICAL Feedback Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

It was my personal experience of not only doing political organizing but also running for County Committee myself. It’s a fascinating subject that I knew nothing about, and when I saw what happens on this local level of politics, I was intrigued and stunned. I knew I had to make something about it.

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

The idea began to develop on paper in Oct 2020, and the film was finally finished in Jan 2022. It took a while, I was juggling a lot of things–work, grad school, other projects, etc. The pandemic also slowed things down.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Democracy: Crazy!

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

There were many challenges, such as filming County Committee activity, which is hard to capture as so much of it happens behind closed doors. Political activity was also much more sparse during the pandemic lockdowns, so finding those moments to film were difficult. Some interviewees even backed out of interviews or avoided talking freely about it because of fear. People know about the corruption in the system but may not be keen to speak on the record about it. But perhaps the biggest challenge was to present this esoteric and sometimes complicated topic of County Committee in a way that a wider audience (one that isn’t privy to this subject) can understand but also find compelling and entertaining.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was definitely validating to hear that many of the viewers found it informative and well presented. A lot of them seemed to be learning about County Committee for the first time in watching the film, and they picked up on a lot of important aspects about the story and why it matters. I think several people mentioned that they appreciated the characters and their stories in the film, which, to me, was just as important, if not moreso, than the information itself. Some said they were inspired and hoped more people will watch–I hope so too!

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

It was a gradual process over years. I started out as a theatre actor, studying it in college, and got a taste of filmmaking toward the end of that. In the years after, I slowly learned editing and then did some screenwriting. I didn’t start actually making films, though, until very recently–like, in the last 2-3 years.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I have no idea! I know the movie I saw the most times in a theater was “The Dark Knight”–4 times!

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

This feedback format that you do is interesting and I like it. It’s the first time I’ve seen that, though I am not very experienced with festivals–much of it is quite new to me. But the feedback videos are nice way to get focused comments on our work. This may be a question I’ll have to get back to you on.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

So far, so good. It’s very user-friendly. It would be nice if other platforms were more commonplace too though. It’s good to have variety and competition.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Any Thai food.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

Currently, I’m in grad school for documentary film and I have a project in mind, as a thesis. It will be a doc film about Bangladesh, the country I am originally from, and the story of its independence and creation in 1971. War, politics, genocide…it’s a big story and I hope to be able to make it next.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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