LIANA HASSIM, writer and di­rec­tor

Destiny - - Report -

“I be­lieve the fu­ture’s very bright for film-mak­ing in South Africa. There’s a sense of ‘all hands on deck’ in grow­ing this baby of an in­dus­try.”

While most other seven-year-olds were play­ing with toys, Hassim was ex­er­cis­ing her the­atri­cal skills, drag­ging older fam­ily mem­bers into the liv­ing room to watch her act­ing out sto­ries she’d writ­ten. This was the be­gin­ning of her film ca­reer.

“There was noth­ing else in the world I ever wanted to do,” she re­calls. “Film-mak­ing is innate and nat­u­ral in me. I once had a dream on my birth­day in which my grand­fa­ther told me that if I wrote and made movies from my soul, they’d al­ways be suc­cess­ful and rel­e­vant. My ap­proach to film-mak­ing changed af­ter that dream. I de­cided I’d only ever write from my heart, be­ing true to the sto­ries I tell.”

Pi­eter­mar­itzburg-born Hassim de­scribes her di­rec­to­rial style as “whim­si­cal and fem­i­nine, with a touch of strange” and says she’s been strongly in­flu­enced by film-mak­ers like Pe­dro Almod­ovar and Guillermo del Torro, who are renowned for their work in mag­i­cal and mys­ti­cal gen­res.

How­ever, she’s also dipped her toes in dif­fer­ent forms of film-mak­ing. Her first break into the in­dus­try came af­ter grad­u­at­ing, in the form of a

30-minute film called Gra­cie, which ex­plored so­ci­etal is­sues such as vi­o­lence, rape and xeno­pho­bia. It was funded by the KZN Film Com­mis­sion and the Na­tional Film & Video Foun­da­tion and won Best Short Film at the Delhi In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

The suc­cess of the project opened many doors for Hassim. She’s since worked on short films such as Amandiya and Vida and is cur­rently work­ing on her first full-length fea­ture film, El Re­greso de la Llo­rana (“The Re­turn of the Cry­ing Lady”), which is be­ing shot in Hon­duras, Cen­tral Amer­ica. It’s a Span­ish hor­ror movie based on Latin Amer­i­can mythol­ogy.

“When the pro­ducer con­tacted me, I jumped at the op­por­tu­nity. Grow­ing up with a Cuban step­fa­ther and be­ing flu­ent in Span­ish, I’ve long dreamed of mak­ing a Span­ish film,” she says.

She hopes that her work can serve as an ex­am­ple of the pos­si­bil­i­ties for women in the in­dus­try.

“I be­lieve the fu­ture’s very bright for film-mak­ing in South Africa. There’s been a move­ment of film-mak­ers – specif­i­cally fe­male ones – coming to­gether. We’re re­al­is­ing that there’s power in num­bers and that we don’t have to fight and be com­pet­i­tive. There’s a sense of ‘all hands on deck’ in grow­ing this baby of an in­dus­try. We have many new and beau­ti­ful sto­ries that the world needs to hear and watch.”

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