Houston, Texas – The Houston Palestine Film Festival screens Transit Game by Anna Fahr in its 9th edition this year. We talked to Anna Fahr about the motivation behind making the film, the challenges, and other things.
HPFF: Thank you very much Anna for being with us. It’s a pleasure having you!
Anna: Pleasure to be here.
HPFF: Our first question to you is about the motivation behind making Transit Game. What made you make this film?
Anna: Part of the motivation behind making the film was my general fascination with what it means to be in exile. I am not Palestinian myself. My family is from Iran originally, and my parents left Iran before the 1979 revolution, and they relocated to North America, before settling in Canada, so all my life I had wondered what it could have been like if they have not left. One idea I had with Palestinian refugees is that they could not go back, so that’s one of the reasons to why I was drawn to the idea of the film.
HPFF: You have screened the film in many festivals worldwide, how was the film received?
Anna: So far, it has been very well received. We have screened it in Europe, at the Beirut film festival, and some festivals in the US and Canada, and I am really pleased on how it is going so far. We just came back from Florence, where the film won the critics jury prize at the Middle East Now festival. This May, we will be heading to Cannes, to the short film corner, and the film is nominated for an award in Canada at the end of the month.
HPFF: The film is filled with details and symbols. How do you think such use of symbols helped tell the narrative of refugees in Lebanon, whether being Palestinians or Syrians?
Anna: I think part of the reason why I wanted to focus on details in terms of props, dialogue, setting, and put together a very simple story of two children who cross path with a man who just escaped war in Syria, is that I wanted to keep things as universal as possible, and approach the subject in a more humanistic way rather than trying to impose any political agenda or ideology. I just wanted to make this film about people, who went through certain circumstances and who happen to have certain things in common, and through that hopefully, be able to relate those experiences to the audience. Details, like art direction and dialogue, are things that trigger people's emotions and probably they would recognize their own stories in those moments in the film.
HPFF: What were the main challenges you and your crew faced while filming Transit Game?
Anna: Unlike Syria, we are not facing an all-out war in Lebanon, but at the same time, there have been moments where there were attacks, and at that particular period while we were shooting back in the summer of 2013, there has been a rise in bombing, so there was that sense of uncertainty of whether something might happen. That being said, we were cautious in terms of choosing a location that has not been targeted at that point in time, and the location we were shooting in was a remote area. The sense that something might happen has become an underlying reality of living in this part of the world, and you just adapt to that and get on with your daily life, and it does not stop people from making really good films and producing very interesting work
HPFF: A message you would like to send to your audience in Houston…
Anna: This is the first screening in Houston and in Texas. I am really honored to be screening my film at the Houston Palestine Film Festival, and I heard really good things about it. We all know there is a certain representation of Middle Easterners that people are fed through the media, and watching films that show an alternative picture might hopefully balance out more stereotypical images. I hope people can find something that they can relate to, and realize that it’s a common struggle, as everybody at some point in their lives had to leave their home or country and relocate.
HPFF: Thank you very much Anna, and we look forward to your future projects.
Anna: Thank you!