A film on ISIS, Afreen is a timely film about the roots of terror and the price of revenge.
Interview with Director Aashish Chanana
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I would like to pose a vital question: Should the challenges and perils of international terrorism be left solely in the hands of politicians? Should we, the film artists of the world, sit aside in our enclaves and watch it all burn?
Such a question surely resonates with the worldwide filmmaking community… and prompts the natural following question: Are we doing our utmost to change the world for the better, if only on the scale of a drop in the ocean? I'd hope that answers your question.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
In short I would say that the film’s trailer says it all.
In words, I'd say: Religious and spiritual conflict. Imperialism. War crimes. Propaganda from all sides. Cult indoctrination. The dangers of terrorism. The dark side of multiculturalism. The existential dread over an uncertain future.
Does ANY of the above bother YOU? If it does YOU are my audience.
Interwoven through the foreground and background of these adventures is a timely, realistic, true-life narrative of violent Islamic terror in the Western world, tying the film's characters to familiar, world-changing events, and threatening to culminate in a major attack that only AFREEN has the power to stop.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
This is a very important subject – the American mindset VS. the radicalized Muslim ideologies – that is unfortunately a vivid and controversial manner that no major film studio has dared to attempt.
How many of us know the truth about why America went to war with Iraq? The politics and the economics behind WARS?
Afreen is a timely film about the roots of terror and the price of revenge. Afreen was conceived as a filmmaker’s answer to such questions, and provides a searing blend of realism and stylized drama that no dry wire report, no sanitized newscast, and certainly no canned political speech, can ever hope to equal.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Since AFREEN has been created with real-life incidents and everything that’s happening in today’s world... the script changed every time there was a terror attack. We finally took the 7th version of the script to camera. Took me and Mike way more than a year to finally lock the script. I was in dialogue with ex-radicalized Muslims, to the ones who were vulnerable when they were taken under the wings of ISIS as well as a French war journalist who was abducted in Syria. That’s how intense the process of scripting AFREEN was.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
It’s been overwhelming to say the least. I am sure you would agree that not many films accumulate over 2 dozen festival Nominations and Awards. It surely is a testament to AFREEN’s potency as a vehicle of entertainment, art, and unbiased geopolitical commentary.
We feel encouraged that our Youtube trailer has gone viral with close to half a million views in just a few weeks.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Absolutely. Never thought it would be big. It’s been encouraging.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I am optimistic that your team would support the ideologies and the positivity that resonates with AFREEN, and the hope that we will some day live in a world of love and peace. I'd like to THANK your team at We Are Moving Stories to have given us this platform to talk about our film.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We now need to meet the right people/buyers/distributors who can take the film to the next level.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
We seek neither competition nor awards, but simply the chance to share, with you, a courageous step towards addressing an existential crisis engulfing our modern world.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
AFREEN is a story about people.
AFREEN offers more; something often ignored by our mainstream media, politicians, and pundits: the human side of the story. Not the emotional drive over starving children pushed on nightly news; not the shallow pathos of college campus protests over treatment of refugees; not the brave struggles of a heroic protagonist against a faceless collective villain. Instead, the film probes human strengths and weaknesses in all three dimensions.
Would you like to add anything else?
Afreen is a unique piece with an unexpected anti heroine that boldly confronts these topics – not to mention the strange role of women in Islam – in a vivid and controversial manner that no major film studio would have dared attempt. We would be obliged and would feel encouraged to hear back from you.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Working on another very important film based on human/sex trafficking.
Interview: January 2019
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
A film on ISIS – Afreen, is a timely film about the roots of terror and the price of revenge.
Director: Aashish Chanana
Producer: Media Factory Inc.
Writer: Mike Smith
About the writer, director and producer:
AASHISH CHANANA is a native of Mumbai, India, and now living in Vancouver, Canada. Labeled a child prodigy at an early age, the young Ashish had won the President's Gold Medal for Inventing and Designing India's First Electric Car while still in high school. That brilliance and innovation in engineering earned him an invitation to a scholarship to Columbia University, Loughborough London and Toyota in Japan. His good looks paired with an intensely creative mind, earned him fame as a lead actor in Bollywood movies but he wanted to go beyond just being an actor. His passion for movies is his driving force.
MIKE SMITH (Screenplay and Dialogue Writer) was born and raised in Virginia, USA, and has been a voracious reader, avid film fan, and compulsive scribbler since childhood. In the media world, he has worked as a news studio technician, a political columnist, and a heavy metal music journalist. AFREEN is his first feature film.
Key cast: Samantha Kressevich, Kyle Cheesman, Raffi Atamian, Farhan Mohammed, Ashwin Maharaj, Richard Cole, Sarah Hoxie, Vince Groulx
Looking for: distributors, buyers
Facebook: Media Factory Inc.
Funders: Media Factory Inc.
Made in association with: Media Factory Inc.
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month?
AFREEN Screens at Chandler (Arizona - USA) on the 18th January Jaipur (India) on the 22nd January Moscow - 16th January.