“ON YOUR RADAR” IS A WEEKLY GRAD FILM NEWS SEGMENT THAT FEATURES A STUDENT PICKED AT RANDOM.
FARIDA ZAHRAN IS CURRENTLY A 3RD YEAR STUDENT AT GRAD FILM. WE ASKED HER A FEW QUESTIONS, AND HERE’S WHAT SHE HAD TO SAY:
1. Where do you consider home and what is it like there?
That’s always been a complicated thing for me. I was born in Cairo, Egypt, and grew up as an expat in Doha, Qatar. I now live in Brooklyn, NY. I’m just as confused now as I ever have been about “home." I make films that are set in Egypt but I can’t fully imagine myself living there. I love the memories and friendships that I have in Qatar but I don’t know if it’s really ever felt like home (more like a really really long layover at a nice airport). New York is where I’ve truly stepped into myself and had time to develop my wants and goals and passions, but whether or not I can call it home depends on a visa process. There’s a piece of me in every one of these places. So for me right now, home is what you make it. It’s the space you carve out for yourself in whatever geographical location you end up in. It’s a routine, comfy pillows and deep connections with fellow humans.
2. What is currently inspiring you as a filmmaker?
I just read this essay that talks about using aestheticism as an approach to seeing and processing the world around us and how stimulating it can be to treat every experience and encounter like you would an artwork or a piece of music. I’ve been trying to do that in a more intentional way—watching and listening more closely on the subway (literally how can you not be inspired by the sensory overload that is the New York City subway??), allowing myself to engage more thoroughly with my surroundings and more importantly, writing things down. I recently watched a 20-something year old Japanese man get into a physical fight with a 70-something year old Russian woman at a bookstore in Soho (she won). The world can be a funny place.
I’ve also been inspired by a lot of stand-up comedy and heated debates with friends/family (because what better way is there to re-assert your own opinions and beliefs than to try to tear down everyone else’s?).
Also: TV shows like GLOW, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, BoJack Horseman, The End of the F****** World and Big Mouth. Martin Parr’s photography. Instagram. Classmates. Strangers.
3. What has been your most rewarding experience at NYU Tisch Grad Film so far?
Getting to collaborate and grow alongside the most unique and diverse voices. How amazing is it that you get to watch 35+ different humans with their own backgrounds, journeys, directing styles and writing processes evolve all at once right before your eyes?
Also, meeting amazing mentors who have empowered me to think of myself as a “real filmmaker” worthy of getting acknowledged (and paid). You’re never gonna get opportunities if you don’t ask for them—I’ve been trying to more fully engage with that concept lately.