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A Night With Noorjahan
Sheffield Shorts 2020
Fiction // Drama // Queer
Interview with writer and director Mariam Majid
Firstly, tell us about the film and what inspired you to make it?
A Night with Noorjehan is a coming of age film. When a street child, Ben, finds Noorjehan, a transgender sex worker, in trouble with the police, he helps her escape. As they hide, they find themselves in the middle of a cinema hall. With the magic of the shared experience of cinema as its backdrop, the film is a snapshot of human connection. As a Western woman of colour, the representation of the reality of the subaltern through film and an attempt to offer their plight a voice is at the heart of the realisation of A Night with Noorjehan.
What was it about an old vintage cinema that made it a desirable setting for the story?
The vintage cinemas of Lahore are located in the old part of town far removed from the gentrified suburbs. The microcosm presents the clear class divide in the city which was important to the integrity of the story. They are a metaphor for discrimination and abjection.
The film has been described as depicting a “clash of the authoritative jurisdiction of men and the other – child, woman and transgender”. What is the message you would like the audience to take from watching the film?
The concept of humanising the ‘Other’ and the ‘Uncanny’ forms the emotional core of A Night with Noorjehan. I believe, we access cinema from the domain of the privileged in pursuit of entertainment, to be moved and to feel. The depiction of the authentic reality of the marginalised plays an important role in inspiring necessary discourse about the human condition. It was important for me to present my protagonists as active, demanding agency, challenging the power structures of the realm they inhabit. This portrayal, I feel, informs the necessary narratives that challenge stereotypes.
Finally, do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Yes, most certainly. The ‘Groundhog Day’ reality of the lockdowns have been highly conducive to day dreaming and researching. I am writing scripts for two feature films at the moment and also researching a documentary. All projects revolve around South Asian women. Fingers crossed.