The Locarno Film Academy is an intensive 10 day program, hosted during the Locarno Film Festival, that aims to bring major players in world cinema together with the most promising talents in contemporary film.
PE: Congratulations on the Locarno Film Academy selection! What does this mean for you?
HB: It’s a huge honor, and it’s still taking some time to sink in. I am thrilled to be attending, and beyond excited to be given this opportunity to learn from the best and brightest minds of global cinema. I know a few years ago, one of my idols, Sean Baker was a mentor on the program. I can’t wait.
PE: What are your plans for the festival? Will you be screening a new film?
HB: The academy has a program called Academy screenings, where they screen older films of the participants, so my short film Dia, will be screened again. It’s sort of surreal that I’ll be back in Locarno, exactly a year later, and getting to watch Dia on a big screen once more. The film has had a life of it’s own after we had it’s world premiere at Locarno in 2018. I’m so grateful to the Locarno Open Doors team, to Sophie, Sarah, Paolo and Delphine for programming it- it’s been truly life-changing. As for my plans for the festival, I’m here to learn, to meet other filmmakers, and hopefully to gain some traction on my feature film.
PE: What is your feature film about?
HB: It’s in early stages of development- I just finished writing the first draft of the screenplay! It’s inspired by my short film, Dia, but massively different thematically. It speaks to the challenges young people face in Pakistan when they choose to pursue their desires- with consequences that can be devastating. It’s combines elements of different genres- from romance to thriller. I think Pakistan, for all it’s supposed ‘family-friendly’ values- can be a terrifying place for young people who don’t toe the line. I think genre is a useful tool to explore that. I’m hoping to gain insight on my script while attending the festival, as well as learn more about international coproductions. It would be incredible if we were able to raise financing at the festival- but I recognize that it may be too early for my film. At the same time- one can hope.
PE: For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to attend Locarno, where can we watch your films?
PE: We look forward to watching it! All the best for the festival.