Interview with Filmmaker Sarah El Hamed (QARDOUN)

QARDOUN played to rave reviews at the April 2022 Female Film Festival.

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1. What motivated you to make this film?

QARDOUN | La Passation is my first film ever. To be honest, making a film was not the plan at the beginning.

Originally, I was working on a live performance and potentially, I thought of making a video performance.

Then, as I was in an artist residency in Algiers (July 2019) in a beautiful Ottoman palace (Villa Abdeltif) located in the heart of the city, hidden in a middle of a wood; I started seeing the potential the natural set up could offer. The decor was initially going to be the background for a series of photography and a video installation.

When I started the post-production I realized the cinematographic nature of this hybrid piece, which is between performance art, theater and cinema.

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

Oh gosh, it was such a long journey !

The film was shot in July 2019 in Algiers, then it took more than a year to release it. As I worked with 3 different editors, we finished the post-production in Paris, in December 2020. The first version (Héloïse Roueau) was more « film d’art et d’essai », very much an art piece to be displayed in art galleries or museums. Then working with the last editor (Élodie Fouqueau), we focused on how to make this abstract piece into a film and the magic happened !

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

Mystical & Poetic

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

There were sooooo many obstacles !

The main one, was undoubtedly MONEY. I produced the film by myself entirely, with no funding. That is why it took me so long to get it done. Thank to friends and contacts many expenses were lighter than expected but still, it was a
real challenge to make a low budget film.

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

I was so happy, so emotional. I had the chance to speak with the audience while attending festivals’ screenings in Europe. However, it was very interesting to get feedback from the US audience and getting detailed opinions. I really enjoyed listening to each of the viewers who had excellent understanding of this symbolic film.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

Well, as I said, at first I really did not plan to make a film or films all together. I am a performance artist, I present myself as a mixed-media storyteller; and video art is one of the mediums I use. However, I had never thought I would ever make a film.

This film is a real surprise in my artist’s journey. Now, I am thinking of making others. I hope I will have the opportunity to finish the trilogy, as QARDOUN | La Passation is the first chapter of a whole project about transmission.

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

I am not the kind of person who would watch a film and watch it again.

There is one film I consider a reference : « The colour of pomegranates » (1969), a Soviet Armenian art film written and directed by Sergei Parajanov.

There are some I enjoyed enough to rewatch, such as : « Edward Scissorhands », « The Silence of the Lambs », « The NeverEnding Story », « Back to the Future », « Sister Act », « Matrix », etc.

Funny thing, when finishing the last version of my own film I expected the audience to want to watch it several times. I think it is the only way for the viewer to grasp the whole symbolism and its essence.

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

I think the feedback video you deliver is already valuable. Honestly, not many festivals involve the audience that much.

Perhaps, you could include Q&A sessions with the filmmakers so the feedback would be a starting point for an exchange between the directors and the viewers. Knowing that as directors we do not get many opportunities to talk with the audience.

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

Being the producer of my own film, it made my life easier to register QARDOUN | La Passation onto FilmFreeway.
I think FilmFreeway has been great as a platform to find, select and apply to numerous festivals around the world.
My film got selected in more than 30 film festivals worldwide thanks to this amazing platform.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I love Tajine Kefta, a North-African meal made of mince meat, tomato sauce and spices.

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

I am currently working on a new project entitled DIGITAL WITCH, a mixed-media art piece composed of : a live performance (music + spoken word), a video installation and digital art. The Preamble of DIGITAL WITCH was presented at Musée International d’Art Naïf (Nice, March 2022) and I hope to show this piece in other countries soon.

Actually, I think this project also has the potential to become an experimental film.

Let’s see how things evolve…


By matthewtoffolo

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

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