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Artists are like waves: their existence thrives on creative movement

A film review and interview with Mohammad Amin Wahidi
Nicole Valentini
Friday 3 February 2012

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"Within the Mists" or “Dentro la Foschia” is the title of a film by Afghanistani director, Mohammad Amin Wahidi. Due to the confines of artistic expression in his homeland, Amin has been living in Italy since 2007. This film illustrates the refreshing bravado of his work. It alludes to the life of the protagonist, but also brings meaning to all of modern man. In the midst of uncertain future, the absence of dependable, concrete relationships brings loss of meaning and doubt to life where perhaps only the radiance of an ordinary red apple stands clearly and visibly as a symbol of love. Love constantly renews our hopes of finding an answer to questions that plague most of humanity: What am I doing here? What is the meaning of my presence in the world?
Relationships help us shape our true identity in this life. The lives of the characters in Amin’s film are inextricably linked to these ever present questions in life. With his keen and spectacular touch in use of lights, cameras and staging, Amin transports us into an allegorical universe where the cerebral boundaries between fiction and reality appear blurred but are mentally recognizable. The protagonist is a poet and a writer, and perhaps for this reason more prone to introspection and understanding of how and why the human soul yearns for a place to adapt. He is also an outsider. An undefined element of society who therefore cannot be accommodated within it. The "apple" is also the pivot on which moves the whole story, linking the lives of the characters as people, clearing for a moment the differences that appreciably divide them. The apple becomes a common denominator of all mankind.

In any language or corner of the world, solitude has an overwhelming presence and as does everywhere, can devour men‘s souls. It is a constant force upon the poet which brings him to his final choice. The proverbial escape. Mirroring the thoughts of all men, a departure from the illusory drabness of life in the city. His hopeful search to find redemption. The poet’s choice conclusively brings a karmic continuity to his life.

Interview with film director, Mohammed Amin Wahidi

Where did the idea for the making of this film? It could perhaps be called in a sense a biopic?

“The idea of this short film was born from my own experiences as a refugee, the difficulties that exist in being refugees in a country far away from their land is considerably high, and when a person feels a certain kind of pain and when there is no way to express themselves in such a way that others understand, there is a lack, a void that causes misunderstanding. For an intellectual, a writer or an artist is very important that their voices can be heard, understood and accepted by others. Its existence as an artist depends on what he is, by his thinking and his actions. When he perceived not to be heard and understood by others, there will be questions about their lives as a result of individual and artist.

I think artists are like the waves: until they are moving they exist, but when they cease to move they don’t exist any more.

In regards the second part of the question, I would say that my film can not properly be called autobiographical, at least not directly, but when a film is made, it will almost always be found something of the personal experience of the director. This film was made from both: my personal experiences and those of people living around me.”

How would you describe the relationship between the protagonist and the city? Is Milan represented here as a city in which defining relationships are becoming more sporadic?

“Normally, the big cities like Milan are considered centers of opportunities. It is believed that the number of opportunities is proportional to the size of the city, but I had the feeling that this impressive size of the city made me often feel lost and written off. This is not the prerogative of Milan, but of the big cities in general, which sometimes swallow men. The more the city is great and life becomes more mechanical, which is why some human values inevitably are lost, we spend our time rushing from one place to another and time to think about themselves and others very little remains.”

How did you live your experience in shooting a film in Milan? Did you find any difficulty?

“Making a movie is a very interesting, but at the same time difficult and tiring, experience, so you need a lot of passion, energy, love, and patience. Creating a film is like raising a child, the idea is born, grows and finally becomes a movie projected on the screen.

Certainly there are always difficulties, especially in a big and busy city. In this short, the good thing was that there was no fee for the locations, thanks to the initiative of the municipality of Milan, which for a couple of years provides the locations for free, and thanks also to "Lombardia film Commission”, which allowed us to find the best places for the film. Until two years ago the price of shooting a film in locations outside of the city was in fact very high.”

What can you say about the health of Afghanistan cinema right now?

“Unfortunately, like many other important sectors, the cinema in Afghanistan, has not yet been well established and known, so for now it is not on the top of the list of areas in which they are willing and able to invest. We never had a film industry itself, but during the communist era were shot the best films in the history of Afghanistan, as the pro-USSR government was aware of the value of cinema as a powerful propaganda weapon.

From many years no longer exists a culture of cinema in Afghanistan and people don’t know the importance of cinema. There is not even a private sector that invests in the cinema and produces films. In the last ten years, there were emerging directors who have done some good work, but have not been filmed many movies. The quantity of the film is not great, but the quality is more than acceptable. The only hope for the future of cinema are the young Afghanistani filmmakers who have studied film and have an extraordinary capacity for making movies. They are the future of the Afghanistan film.”

What are your future plans?

“For the moment I have at least a dozen ideas and subjects to achieve in the years to come, but the actual projects already decided consist of two films that will be realized in the 2012. One is a short film tentatively titled "The Last Hope", which tells the daily life, obstacles, challenges and problems faced by a Hazara boxing and kickboxing champion in Italy. This film will be a short fiction produced by "Cinema Deedenow Afghanistan" and "Remspot Italy." The director and the script will always be mine, and the cinematography will be headed by Marco Masante.

The other project focuses on a feature film that I hope to achieve by the end of 2012. The working title of this film is "Misunderstanding" and tells the story of a group of young immigrants and refugees abroad who find themselves sharing an apartment in Milan. At the time, "Cinema Deedenow Afghanistan" and "Remspot Italy" are the two film production companies but we are still looking for Italian and foreign co-producers for the final.

In addition to the film, there are other activities that we are preparing to organize in Italy, such as exhibitions of art and photography by various artists from Afghanistan.”

Director: Mohammad Amin Wahid (Milano, Italy)
Time: 30 minutes
Production: Deednow Production Afghanistan Remspot Italia
Year: 2011
Language: Italiano con sottotitoli in inglese

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So-Called Afghanistan Comprises Diverse Stateless Nations, Including the Hazara, Uzbek, Tajik, Turkmen, Pashtun/Afghan, and Nuristani With No Majority or National Identity.

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