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Current time:0:00Total duration:5:54

Interview with Naeem Mohaiemen

Video transcript

I have a very strong first memory People don't believe me when I tell them I remember my father's Volkswagen it's the car he had when we were in Pakistan and when we left Pakistan from Bangladesh he had to sell the car and I remembered the last ride in the car because I remember him speeding too much I work on memory. Memory and the disjuncture between what I remember and how it must have been because I think that can't be how I remember it and my family history is always in all my projects because it's the thing I understand and it's the thing I can enter in any way I want and I feel very intimate with that history and I also have this sense maybe it's a story I've told myself that I'm reliving my parents and my grandparents lives I started making films I think to make sense of all this The word Fedayeen is pronounced the same in Arabic and Hebrew but only in one does it mean those who sacrifice themselves I am thinking about that other photo again One more enigma inside the puzzle box standing still for one pose and then just like that they vanish I can be quite invisible and unobtrusive one of my favorite things to do is film in a political rally and I'm just quietly in a corner filming what I find interesting You do lose that when you have a crew I also want to keep making little things that are experiments that are just for myself to make films that kind of start from accidents without planning you do need to work quite small My preferred way to be in a moderately crowded room is to be just in the edge listening to the stories I'm okay with finding the one interesting strange just speaking on the side and even quirky person just at the side of the room The thing I do is write that person's story I'm drawn to people on the margins I'm more comfortable on the margins I heard more refugees arrive today More and more Burmese claiming to be Bangladeshi Turks claiming to be Polish Everyone claiming to be me There is something that comes to you from the murkiness of the old material I don't mean the fetish of how murky it is because as we know you can actually take contemporary digital material and produce that look as well But there's something about the murky blurry quality of old film that makes you very aware of the time within which this material was made This is the treasure trove back here Because you're interested in what they call geography world politics, world history, it is mostly here When I first see this material usually off of a projector the age of the material places me in the time when this work was made so that to me is very valuable and i'm interested in somehow transmitting that In a way if I really found the really really valuable film reel it might be too much responsibility You know I always think there's such a film reel out there but I'm relieved not to find it I'm quite happy with the outtakes and rejects and the not important film and working with that With the characters in my films almost all of whom are real historical figures and blended in with fiction There is a very specific thing that I'm drawn to Not only marginal figures but I'm drawn to this particular form of masculinity I'm interested in looking at it as a form of men trying to be men in the ways they thought they were supposed to and in trying to play out those roles you know walking in to or sliding into disaster and bringing others with them It's a failed masculinity but also tragic there's an option perhaps now for a current generation to reinvent how they think about gender period My advice to anyone starting out in school or since school is to always have a notebook with you It can be whatever size whether you want it to fit in your pocket or be in your bag and to write and draw things that are good to you as they occur to you and then leave that whole book alone for a long time and don't go back and look at those pages even preferably a few years later when you have to struggle to remember what it was about I think that process of coming back to things you wrote or did or thought in a few years time is tremendously productive It allows you to see a part of your own subconscious that you won't see in the moment but it will make sense in a few years time