A Muslim girl hitchhikes to Glastonbury Festival, but why is she wearing her mother’s ill fitting burqa?
Current Status: Completed – Premiered in Western Europe, North America, West Asia, South East Asia and South Asia. Australian Premiere - WOW.
Length: 23 mins
Writer: Annabel Allison & Yasmin Khan-Cheema
Director: Annabel Allison
Producer: Yasmin Khan-Cheema
About Annabel Allison: Annabel Allison’s award winning Writer/Director at Wax Films. She is currently developing a feature film which she hopes to take in to production in 2017.
Looking for (ie buyer, distributor, sales agent, producer, media interest) Yes, Distributor, buyer, media interest, sales agent.
Funders or made in association with:
Crowd Funded and Wax Films
Where can I watch it @WOW?
Sunday 1st May
10-11:45am @ Cinema PARIS
1. Congratulations! Why did you decide to make this film?
I like to make films that challenge people’s perceptions, films that push people together from completely different backgrounds. I am interested in what makes us similar amid these superficial differences, and where the nature of hate is challenged by deep humanity.
This is an important film for young British Muslims. It is one positive story in an avalanche of misrepresentation. People are quick to judge the veil, forgetting that there is a human being underneath.
2. Why is it called Letterbox?
Letterbox refers to the shape that is created with the cloth around the eyes when niqab is worn.
3. How did you collaborate with the co-writer Yasmin Khan-Cheema?
Yasmin and I met at Glastonbury festival, we became very close friends and ended up living together in London. We always talked about the niqab, Yasmin’s feminist views reject that part of her culture. One year at Glastonbury Festival I put an image in Yasmins’s head of a woman in a burka, lost in music at a huge sound system. We started chatting about how she might have got there and the character of Imani was born.
As soon as we had the character the film began to take shape and within a few weeks we had our first draft. It is a deeply personal story to Yasmin, who has a deep love of music and has had to fight to pursue her dreams of being a Singer Songwriter. Finding her own path rather than accepting the path her parents laid out for her. She is Imani.
4. What type of feedback have you received so far?
At our London premiere people loved it. I was proud to see that in 23 minutes the film made people laugh and cry. We have received eight awards and six nominations and found an audience in nine countries. Here are some quotes from famous artists that have seen it.
“A brave funny film that challenges assumptions on all sides” - Maajid Nawaz, author of the book Radical.
“Moving and beautiful, full of heart and soul” Mina Anwar, actor The Infidel.
5. Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
This is a micro budget film and it has had more support and great feedback than we ever anticipated. Hooray for ‘Letterbox’ and all the cast and crew.
6. What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on this platform?
I would love it to go to distribution. But ultimately I want as many people to see the film as possible. We are delighted to be having our Australian Premiere at the WOW film festival. We just wish we could be there to see all the other films on offer.
7. Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify the message of this film?
We would love to get a distributor and find a way to get ‘Letterbox’ on a VOD platform. Journalists also would be useful, if they picked up the unusual way we shot it. Such a great story which you can read here. http://civilianglobal.com/arts/guerrilla-shooting-at-glastonbury/
8. What type of impact would you like this film to have?
Stories are so important. The majority of Muslim stories we find in the media are either about terrorists or war torn regions. This is just a story about a girl. The burka is such a powerful and loaded image. What I really want to achieve with this film is that by the time the viewer is on Imani's side, they cease to see the burka. Other aspects of her character hopefully just take over. The main message is that underneath every headscarf, niqab or mouse mask is a real person.
9. What’s a key question that will help spark a discussion about this film?
Is it ok to judge a women by what she wears, weather it is a burka or a bikini?
10. What other projects are you currently developing or directing?
I have written a feature length film which is currently in the selection process for ifeatures http://www.ifeatures.co.uk/
I am also writing an earth bound Scifi and being mentored by Stephen Cleary. The above is outside of my work at Wax Films where I continue to make film content.
11. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Producer Statement by Yasmin Khan-Cheema
‘Seeing something so personal and precious finally come to life, after years of attempts to get the project off the ground has been a cathartic experience for us. Imani represents any one of us who make a break to follow their hearts, but are firstly forced to uncover the many masks under which we all blanket ourselves. ‘