Friday, September 7, 2018

HollyShorts: Carga - Yad Deen Interview

Photo Credit: JBN Media

Yad Deen is a filmmaker and photographer from London, England, with extensive experience in the film and media industry across Europe and the Middle East.


When I first heard about the old, unused cigarette factory in Iraqi-Kurdistan, my wife, Renas, told me that some colleagues of hers were planning to restore it and make it into a mini culture city to promote the arts industries. I thought it was a great idea and she and her colleague took me to visit the place. It was precisely as they said: like a small town in itself. Actually, it reminded me some of the spaghetti western films I’d watch as a kid with my dad; dry, sandy and hot with an eery silence that could only be broken by the wind.

We went into one of the main buildings and I stood in the middle of this enormous and rustic empty hall and said “we need to make a film before you start cleaning up”.

My dear friend, Gema, who was Director of Photography on the film, has been to the region a number of times, both with me and for a festival. The last time we were in Iraq together, I knew we’d eventually make a short film in Iraqi-Kurdistan and that it would be a thriller. I just didn’t know the story until I met the old factory.

I thought of a story and wrote up a synopsis that I eventually took, with Renas, to Barcelona, where Gema introduced me to a well-known writer called Chesco Simon. Our first meeting went well. He understood the story I wanted to tell so we went ahead. However, due to budget restraints, we had to rewrite the film and make it more high-concept (it was supernatural with spirits and such at first). Our executive producer, Faruk Mustafa Rasool, Iraq’s only known billionaire businessman, agreed without hesitation to provide us with enough funds to fly the crew and cast over and cover all expenses during production and post-production. We all volunteered on this project. The cast and crew from Spain loved the story enough that they gave almost three weeks of their time to come to Iraq and make Carga.

Why two Spanish characters and why two Spanish characters in Iraq? Why not? It’s exciting. I wanted to make a film that was exciting, engaging and fun to watch. And cross-cultural productions like these are opportunities for a number of exchanges before, during and even after the productions.

I want to encourage genre filmmaking to Iraq in a way that would build a sustainable industry there. It is an industry that could thrive with other countries and offer up the many safe filming locations that the country has to offer.

Marta, a well-known documentarian from Spain has decided to travel to Iraq and investigate some events that got her attention in an article she read recently about an abandoned cigarette factory. Marta has been to unusual places in her time as a documentarian, namely Afghanistan and Chernobyl, and so far she’s gone to these places with her colleague who films the happenings. Her boyfriend, Juan, an aspiring filmmaker, insists he joins her on her journey this time. He has always sat in the background worrying while his girlfriend goes on these adventurous trips around the world. But not this time.

Their driver, Ahmed, knows how to manoeuvre the mountainous region of Iraq and get the couple to where they want to go. Marta and Juan have only one hour in the factory. What they find is the least they expect to.

A tense and unsuspecting short thriller by Yad Deen.

Yad Deen and Kristin Cercado on the Red Carpet at HollyShorts.


HollyShorts takes place August 9-18, 2018 at the TCL Chinese Theater, Harmony Gold Theater and other locations in Hollywood. Nearly 400 short films will compete for the festival’s top prizes. Last year HollyShorts finalists included 3 out of the 5 Live Action Oscar nominees and the winning short Silent Child from Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton. This year, HollyShorts received an all-time record 5,000 submissions from over 80 countries. The competition will feature Live Action, Animation and Documentary Shorts as well as web series, student shorts, music videos, TV pilots, and VR. The festival also features a screenplay competition where the winning short gets greenlit, shot and shown at next year’s festival courtesy of Seattle Film Summit.

Video/Edit: James Vallesteros (@jamesvallesteros). Audio: Edward Chung.

HollyShorts Film Festival is an organization devoted to showcasing the best and brightest short films from around the globe, advancing the careers of filmmakers through screenings, networking events, and various panel and forums. The Oscar Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival showcases the top short films produced 40- minutes or less. Categories include Short Animation, Short Live Action, Short Documentary, Music Video, Webisode, Commercials, TV, and Digital Microbudget.
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