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NFF Talent - Aiman Hassani

24 September 2020
Talent en Route: Aiman Hassani (director)

Filmmaker Aiman Hassani's Khata is nominated for a Prix Europa 2020 in the TV Iris Category. This follows the film's submission as Dutch entry to this year's International Emmys. He is also selected by NFF 2020 as a major Dutch talent to follow. The director talks to See NL.

Aiman Hassani refers to himself as a self-taught filmmaker, but one whose three films to date have been selected at three consecutive Netherlands Film Festivals, running 2017-19. This year the festival has chosen Hassani for its Talents en Route programme, which supports young, talented Dutch filmmakers and junior producers on the first steps along their international careers.

"Since I was a little kid me and my dad would be watching films together and then discuss characters and plot together," the filmmaker says of his early introduction to the medium. "My dad wasn't a filmmaker but a psychologist, so his views and opinions about characters were very interesting to me. At the same time there were no role models that looked like me or bore my name. So at first I didn't see myself doing this for a career."

But nevertheless he did, driven by a desire to tell stories "that otherwise wouldn't be told and shared with others." His 2017 KORT! film #YOLO4REAL*), for example, follows Ahmed, a 21-year old man who is told he is terminally ill. After a phase of denial Ahmed starts to take action to escape this horrible truth.

Likewise, in You are Moroccan, right? *)(2018), either filmmaker Hassani must conform to the wishes and obligations of his Moroccan family or decide to continue along his own path, and thereby jeopardize the relationship with his parents.

"I want to take action and incite others to take action. I tell the stories which we all have to see and learn to recognize," Hassani underlines, adding how "film, either fiction or documentary are, in my opinion, still the best mediums to tell these stories. Once you become aware of what is possible within the moving canvas of film it's really amazing and freeing."

His 2019 short Khata*), delivered a lot of success, culminating in the 2020 Prix Europa nomination within the TV Iris category (announcement of winner late October 2020).

The film is about the gentle adolescent Kamal, who works with his older brother Hatim as a boy prostitute on and around Rotterdam Central Station. The parents of the brothers think they are just hanging out with friends on the street. But when Kamal falls in love with a male customer, the situation seems to escalate completely...

Hassani underlines the considerable social impact of the film. It helped to release funds to develop programs, such as "housing for youth prostitution". It was adopted for use by the police force to educate on the subject, and it is regularly shown in schools. "It literally placed the problem that the film highlights onto the political agenda," he stresses. "I am very thankful that I have had opportunities to make a film of such a scale and hope to make many more."

Right now, he is working on a continuation of You are Moroccan, right? "It's not gonna be a sequel but starting off where we are now, and following the progression."

His hopes for the Netherlands Film Festival event are high, and suggests that he is looking to find further inspiration beyond Dutch borders in the future. "I wish mainly to be inspired and to meet interesting people," he underlines. "It would be lovely to start laying the seeds for an international career."

Aiman Hassani

*) supported by the Netherlands Film Fund
KORT! is a collaboration between NTR, Netherlands Film Fund, NPO Fund and CoBO Fund.



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