Category Archives: projects

The Injured Body: Lauren Jimerson

Transcribing interviews for my new doc ‘The Injured Body’

Lauren Jimerson, art therapist and fine artist, originally from the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, near Buffalo, shares the story of a recent micro-aggression:

And she’s like, ‘Where do I know you from?’ and, I said, ‘I don’t know’, like I go a lot of places… I said, ‘Well, I’m affiliated with Ganondagan, have you ever been there?’ And she said no. And then she made a comment about how she thought, or she knew (I feel like she might have said she knew) I had to be Asian, or Oriental, or she said something like that. And, I personally took offense to it.

And it’s not the thought of being Asian. It’s connected to this idea that Native Americans look a certain way. You know, due to images that are out there, in mainstream media, and there’s also the concept of like, all the Indians are dead, you know, like they don’t exist anymore. And even though I mentioned Ganondagan and at one point I said something about being Native American, she still was like, I was Asian.
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microaggressions #racism #womenofcolor #film #documentary #theinjuredbody #neelumfilms #rochesterny #microaggressionsareracism #microaggressionsarereal

A Thin Wall (Ahmed, 2015)

When a skilled filmmaker writes a review of your film – thank u so much Neal Dhand:)

‘There’s such a mixture of form here: talking head, staged interviews; two voiceovers; handheld, spur of the moment interviews; animation; traditional B-roll. It’s collage, but also a good example of the myriad ways to recall and/or discuss a difficult event – just sitting down and talking won’t do it justice, you have to get at it from multiple angles.

It’s the uncommon film that maintains the feeling of refusal to look away, while also, and seemingly contradictorily, refusing to show those images that we might typically look away from. Much of that comes from the openness with which the subjects in the film speak, including on-the-street interviewees (though I’m sure many didn’t make the cut).

I have no doubt that if Ahmed had wanted to she could have found a trove of images, testimonials, etc, that delve into the horror show that was much of Partition. It’s not that these aren’t worthwhile, it’s that she hopes we know the history already, and that we can put our focus on the human, living element.’ More here.

The Injured Body: Chronology

I read Claudia Rankine’s ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’ in 2015 I think (it came out in the fall of 2014) and started thinking about a film that would use micro-aggressions to approach the broader subject of racism in America. I remember this conversation with friends in 2016 where I was able to articulate some of the ideas swirling around in my head. Rajesh and I started to shoot in 2017. I’ve always wanted this project to be bigger than the film, discussing some of those ideas with Luticha in particular. Now that I’m transcribing the interviews we shot 2-3 years ago, there’s such resonance with what’s happening right now. I hope to share with our community soon:)

The Injured Body: Tonya Noel Stevens

Transcribing interviews for my new doc ‘The Injured Body’

Tonya Noel Stevens, co-founder of Flower City Noire Collective and Director of Cause and Effect Greenspace, talks about processing racist micro-aggressions:

That’s really something I’ve been working on, like not harboring those feelings or the negative things people give me, and it’s not even just microaggressions, it’s any negative energies fed my way. If it’s not something that I can process and turn into light, and that I could share back with that person… then you can keep it, it’s all yours, and I try not to take it in.

Because then I end up with it… And I’m really about taking ownership – ownership of one’s body, and what’s mine and what’s not mine. When you hit me with that negative energy and add those negative vibes, and then that negative talk, that’s not mine, none of that is my language, none of that is how I’m moving in the world. So you just have to keep that. And I’m good for saying I don’t accept that. You keep it, I’m just not even gonna take that in, because when I do, then I have to find space for it.

So gardening is a big thing for me. And that’s really what I try to harness and tell people like, we’re in a garden, this is your place to bury all that, put it into an affirmation and put it into a seed, put it into the ground and like let it grow into something else because if not, it’s still growing inside of you.
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microaggressions #racism #LGBTQrights #womenofcolor #film #documentary #theinjuredbody #neelumfilms #rochesterny #urbangarden #communitygarden #eatwhatyougrow #microaggressionsareracism #microaggressionsarereal

Review of A Thin Wall by @ind.igenous

Repost from @ind.igenous


Filmmaker Mara Ahmed’s documentary, ‘A Thin Wall’ is a haunting and thought-provoking account of the partition. Strung together are stories, memories and experiences of those who suffered, leaving behind what they called home, plunging into the unknown. Yet, like wilted flowers inside an old book, love still remains on each side of the border. The documentary reminds one of Zarina Hashmi’s art, of a constant search for home, and the pain of separation.
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Heard this powerfully evocative piece named ‘Never’ from a short memoir, ‘Six Snapshots of Partition’ by poet John Siddique in the film. Here it is for you to read:
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Faizal carries his wife in his pocket: she is a white handkerchief. Faizal carries his three daughters in his other pocket: three small stones gathered from the side of the road. Their names are lost to walking. His sons Mohammed and Rafiq flank him. They carry the memories of their sisters and mother in their silence. Faizal closed down his carpet shop three months ago; he misses his days bargaining at his counter. No one has told Faizal why India has changed – he is not one of those men who drinks tea and talks politics at night. Every time he meets a dead person he asks them what his wife’s name was. He asks and puts his hands in his pockets.
Zoom out and it looks like the whole of India is walking. Walking towards a blue line on a rough map drawn on to a napkin. Mohammed Siddique, my father, is a young man of seventeen years on the road from Jullundur to Lahore. He will never be a Pakistani, he will always be an immigrant – a series of questions which Faizal cannot answer.
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A Thin Wall is streaming now on @mubiindia
(Partition photo by Margaret Bourke-White)
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athinwall #documentary #partition #indiapakistan #lahore #delhi #puranaqila #border #indiadocumentary #johnsiddique

The Injured Body: Sady Fischer

Transcribing interviews for my new doc ‘The Injured Body’

Sady Fischer, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, describes her vision for a better world:

The first thing I would say is for everyone to get the term colorblind out of their vocabulary. We do see different races, different communities, different looks. There’s this Audre Lorde poem, it is my all-time favorite, and she says: ‘It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.’

[…] I tell people all the time, I want you to see who I am, I don’t want you to pretend that you can’t see that I’m female. I’m proud of being a woman. Don’t pretend that you don’t see that I am a Latina, I’m very proud of my background and my heritage. I don’t want you to pretend that I’m not a queer woman. People say, ‘I don’t even see you as that, I just see you as Sady.’ But I see myself as that. I’m proud of my partner, our household, our family and the community that we belong to. I want you to see all those things. What I don’t want is a value judgment assigned to any of it.

microaggressions #racism #LGBTQrights #womenofcolor #film #documentary #theinjuredbody #neelumfilms #microaggressionsareracism #microaggressionsarereal

Dividing the Indivisible: Revisiting Partition

THIS review!!! When someone sees, truly sees, your work.

A Thin Wall premiered in 2015, five years ago, but MUBI India just acquired it and made it ‘film of the day’ and Kriti: a development praxis and communication team have been screening it, so entire new audiences are watching it now. It’s more relevant than ever.

What was it like to make A Thin Wall, a film that took seven years to complete?

How does one make a film about ethnic cleansing and violence, yet stitch it together with the movement of delicate saris and dupattas, fabric that hugs and celebrates the bodies of women? How does one tell stories about loss and displacement yet make the language of that telling sing with poignant, thoughtful words articulated by poets, writers, photojournalists, historians and filmmakers? How does one jettison linearity and its oppressive demands for a structure loose enough, capacious enough, to contain multiple layers of pain, memory, politics, history, and emotion? How does one talk about ominous violence, yet intertwine it with hope, with dreams of a better future?

These were some of the contradictions, narratives and sensibilities that were woven together to create A Thin Wall.

Thank you Surbhi Dewan for being my partner in this and for trusting me with the stories of your family. Thank you Mitun Gomes, Zubair Tanoli and Adam Netsky for your lyrical cinematography, Gayane Okhota for breathtaking animation, and Hassan Zaman, Nivedhan Singh and Zeshan M Bagewadi for beautiful original music. Thank you John Siddique, Uzma Aslam Khan, Ajay Bhardwaj, Asim Rafiqui, Jimmy Engineer and Urvashi Butalia for lending your genius to this project.

Thank you to everyone who supported our crowdfunding campaign, worked on post-production, and helped in myriad other ways in Pakistan, India and the United States. Last but not least, thank you to the family and friends we interviewed, some of whom have left us already, and who spoke with such generosity, truth and courage. So grateful for all of you, and for being able to make films.

Read review here.

A THIN WALL on MUBI

My film ‘A Thin Wall,’ co-produced by Surbhi Dewan, a documentary that highlights personal stories about the partition of India in 1947, will be streaming on MUBI India starting today! MUBI is a global film platform that provides a hand-curated selection of films on demand, in over 190 countries. Psyched:)
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MUBI #athinwall #documentary #neelumfilms #partitionofindia #pakistan #india #southasia #subcontinent #oralhistory #personalstories #womenempowerment #bordersseparatepeople

The Injured Body: Amanda Chestnut

Transcribing interviews for my new doc ‘The Injured Body’
Amanda Chestnut, an artist, curator and educator based in Rochester, NY, talks about her work:

‘The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain’ by Langston Hughes was so important for me to read. I’ve read a lot of his poetry. A lot of archival work I’ve done has been related to Hughes’s experience of being Black in America. His poetry has overlapped with my archival work in many ways. But this essay in particular was really important for me because he speaks to actively choosing to be Black and actively choosing to glorify that Blackness, instead of being a creator and having aspirations toward a normative white standard. He emphasizes that it’s ok to be Black and that Blackness is glorious, is the word that he uses. And that was really important for me to read as I was coming into being an artist. It was important for me to be able to actively choose to talk about race and to make work about race. Because when you’re a person of color your work is always about race, whether you want to admit it or not. Everything you make is influenced by race and everything you make will be read through that lens.
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microaggressions #racism #womenofcolor #film #documentary #theinjuredbody #neelumfilms #microaggressionsareracism #microaggressionsarereal