We had the chance to sit down with Sara, a 23 year old Moroccan, in her third year of studies in production and filmmaking. Sara has a lot to tell about her most recent film and her what has inspired her to begin filmmaking. Check out her interview with NFA below!
NFA: Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
Sara: I have always wanted to produce a film on Moroccans diagnosed with dyslexia. As I got my baccalaureate, I decided to study speech therapy. I failed in my first year. After that, I decided to pursue my studies in cinematography. I said to myself, ‘why not achieve the dream that I’ve always had, which is producing a film on dyslexia?’.
NFA: How has your life changed when you decided to become a filmmaker?
Sara: My vision towards things has changed. I had this idea that cinema is simple; you just grab your camera and go out there and film. I am a dyslexic person, and when I got into this field, I started transmitting anything I read into imagery to understand it easier. I just don’t see myself in any other field than filmmaking, because that’s what I can succeed in.
NFA: What is the best thing about being a filmmaker?
Sara: The best thing is that you live an adventure. In this field, you have to be engaged, committed, and responsible. It is not something you can just read and practice. Most importantly, you should have a passion for filmmaking.
NFA: What is the worst thing about being a filmmaker?
Sara: The worst thing is you are not stable. You always travel, work day and night. You don’t work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. You can instead film from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and rest for two days, though even the lack of stability has its charm.
NFA: What are the challenges you have faced being a filmmaker who happened to be diagnosed with dyslexia?
Sara: When I was filming “Mon Son est Rouge”, many parents didn’t want to show up on camera and say that their children have dyslexia. It was hard for me to convince parents to tell the story of their children, though they didn’t let their children show up on camera. I am working now on a series of documentaries related to dyslexia, and I am faced with same issues. People consider dyslexia as a taboo. Parents don’t want others to know their children have the disease and schools don’t want to be interviewed because they don’t want to have students with the disease.
NFA: What is your best memory when you started filmmaking?
Sara: My best memory is when I was shooting “Mon Son est Rouge”. At times, It was so emotional hearing stories of children who have dyslexia – to the point that I kept leaving the location of shooting upset, because I have been there.
NFA: What is your favorite part of the process of making films?
Sara: Definitely shooting. You just go from writing the scenario, which is an abstract thing, to editing, but the best part is shooting. You realize there is no gap for error. All what we imagined, we shall make it real. Even stress and disputes during shooting fade when you have the final product at hand.
NFA: What is your film “Mon Son est Rouge” about?
Sara: It is about Sara Raji Senhaji, a dyslexic person. I am in the film, yet I tell my story through others’ stories. At first, the idea was to interview people, only after that, I found that the situation of people with the disease didn’t change as they had issues same to what I had before them. Nothing changed. People don’t know how to treat people diagnosed with dyslexia. My job was to tell this story.
NFA: Why did you choose a documentary film to tell your story?
Sara: I couldn’t find another tool to transmit the reality as it is. With the parents’ testimonies and different footage, it was this idea that pushed me to opt for a documentary film. There was a mother whose child achieved his dream and became a chef, there was me, who became a filmmaker, and there were others whose children now study. They look at us as if we are a light at the end of a tunnel.
NFA: You dedicated the film to your grandfather, why?
Sara: This is an emotional question. He was the first person to believe in me. He was the only person who kept saying, “This girl will achieve her dreams”. They detected my disease at the age of 11. It was late. So I had to attend three sessions with a speech therapist during three years. I also attended sessions with a child psychiatrist for seven years. My grandfather’s dream was that I could get the baccalaureate. Before he died, he told me to do something to tell my story and what I have gone through. He was there to encourage me and inspire me. He is the reason I did it.
NFA: Have you participated in any other film festivals other than Festimaj?
Sara: No, the first film festival I have participated in was Festimaj.
NFA: Have you worked on any other projects other than “Mon Son est Rouge”?
Sara: Yes, I worked on two films. One is called “Joue Ton Rôle”, the other one is called “75”.
NFA: In one word, what are the other films about?
Sara: “Joue Ton Rôle” is about the idea that the imaginary world to normal people is the real world we have in cinema. “75”, on the other hand, is about the idea that human resistance has no limits.
NFA: What is your favorite film you’ve worked on? And why?
Sara: I will stick to “Mon Son est Rouge” because it is something that I relate to. I felt it.
NFA: What are your future projects?
Sara: I am working on a documentary film about dyslexia. This time I will include my parents and the role of the government in the education of such disease.