Sign in Register
Posted On: 18 November 2012 02:44 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:12 pm

‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ director Mira Nair stresses film as an important ‘bridge between cultures’

Discuss here!
Start a discussion
Vibrant selection of Arab films praised as part of lineup at DTFF this year Doha, Qatar; November 17, 2012: Kicking off the fourth Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF), Doha Film Institute CEO Abdulaziz Al Khater, officially opened the event Saturday afternoon with the initial press conference ahead of the opening night gala of Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, being held at Souq Waqif. Al Khater stressed the importance of cultural diversity at this year’s festival, highlighting 87 films being shown at DTFF from 34 countries. “Cultural diversity and the celebration of cultural diversity is an inherent theme of this year’s festival,” said Al Khater. “The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a remarkable piece of work that talks about cross cultures. We at DFI have been privileged to be part of this journey.” The filmmakers behind The Reluctant Fundamentalist had a wide-ranging and stimulating discussion about the film and the debate that it raises about stereotypes, fundamentalism and the current climate of fear we live in. Director Mira Nair explained the inspiration for the film came from a visit to Pakistan in 2004 and her own experience as a child growing up as a Lahore in India. “My trip to Pakistan inspired me because I got to experience the deep culture that I remembered as a child and I wanted to make a film about modern day Pakistan which is so different to the country you often read about in the news,” she said. The Reluctant Fundamentalist was a hard five-year journey for Nair from script to screen and the director talked about the struggles along the way to get the film financed. “It was a long and arduous road taken by us and DFI. They were the first believers in the film from the inception and they stood by us and helped us to move this from being a dream to a reality. I’m moved to be able to bring the film home to Doha,” she said. The Reluctant Fundamentalist author Mohsin Hamid addressed questions of whether this story was autobiographical. “The story of Changez isn’t my story but he comes from a world I am every familiar with,” said Hamid, who has lived in both the U.S. and Pakistan. “However, it is his story and it happens to him. Changez could be my younger cousin.” Screenwriter Ami Boghani explained the changes made in adapting the book to the big screen and described the widening out of the story to include modern themes and create characters to move the book from a monologue to a dialogue. “Mohsin and I were keen to dive in and discover where this story could go, using current events and capturing modern day Pakistan,” she said “We wanted to build on Mohsin’s original story for a modern audience. It was a really exciting process.” Nair was questioned about how the film has been received in the US and if she is concerned about the potential reaction from American audiences. “The film has been really embraced on the festival circuit,” said Nair. The Reluctant Fundamentalist has won the top prize at the Mill Valley Film Festival in California and has had three major screenings at the Toronto, Venice and London Film Festivals. “People have been longing for this bridge and dialogue because so often in the US you only get one side of the story,” she said. “Portraits of America in this film are as varied as America itself; not at all a condemnation but a portrait of real life in America today.” Nair also stressed the film will be seen by a wide audience in the U.S. and around the world when it goes on wide release from April 26 next year. Hamed echoed Nair’s point about the portrayal of current affairs in the media, saying: “Very often in the news today we get a very simple story. America is good or America is bad, Pakistan is good or Pakistan is bad. We all feel that part of our job was to recomplicate what has been simplified and to show complexity in a story – in which one person is neither right nor wrong.” ILQ NEWS