Interview with Writer/Director, Fatima Mawas

In a second installment of interviews, I chat to Fatima Mawas about dinner dates and breakfast preferences, oh and women on screen.

M: How did you come up with the title Fighting for Air?

F: Well initially I wrote a scene where KJ starts to have a panic attack and hyperventilates from all the stress in her world. Added with the importance of breathing in boxing, I came up with the title ‘Gasping for Air’. But it didn’t sit right for myself or my Producer Christina Radburn. Then one day while she was on Facebook she turned to me and said Fighting for Air! And there you have it.

M: It’s clever and says so much about KJ’s state of mind. What do you think is currently lacking when it comes to women being represented on screen?

F: EVERYTHING! But most importantly, women creating images to represent themselves. Then of course comes the lack of strong, coloured, female characters.

M: You mean people like us should be on tv? Revolutionary! How does Fighting for Air address that?

F: Well I am a woman and I developed the characters and worked with my actors to ensure all female characters had obvious and unique strengths.

M: I think that came across really nicely in the film. Will we be seeing any more of KJ?

F: The short was meant to be the first installment/teaser to a feature. I’m currently in the process of writing the treatment. The film will pick up from the day after the car scene and I’ll just say the risks are going to get bigger and bigger. I don’t want to give away anything else. If you want to know what’s to come, lobby your state screen departments and hold onto your seats! 

M: We’ll start a petition. Enough about KJ, let’s talk about you. Who were the most inspiring people in your childhood and did they come to influence your career choice?

F: I guess it’s very corny but number one is my mum. The older I get the more I realise how strong she is and has been since she was a child. Migrating to a country to marry a man she had never met and being able to navigate language, love, racism, work and then a child like me!!! Now that’s one hell of a woman!

M: Agreed. May I also add, that’s a beautiful turn of phrase. Anyone else?

F: Khadijah, the wife of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Such a strong, financially successful and daring woman, who proposed to the Prophet and was raised in a time when girls were being buried alive for having been born female!

I guess they influenced my career choice in that they helped me become who I am now, which in part is a filmmaker.

M: She’s one of my faves too. If you had a dinner party and could invite four guests from any period in time/history, who would they be and why?

F: Prophet Adam and his wife Eve: So many questions about what happened before, during and after being sent to earth that I cant seem to find answers for.

My Grandmother (dad’s side): Want to learn everything about her that the family won’t tell me! She died when I was 1 or 2 years old. She was a widow in Lebanon. She raised 7 children!

Khalil Gibran: To get him to write more works or tell me where some of his undiscovered pieces are!

M: Capitalising on your dinner dates, smart woman. As a woman, and a creative force, what drives you?

F: My anger! It’s very bad but it’s true. I guess it’s the things that make me angry, the injustices in the world, the lack of true representation of people and communities etc etc.

M: Channeled anger can be very productive. Finally and most importantly, what’s your fav breakfast preference?

F: Ibtissam Krayem’s Fatteh!!!!

M: My mother didn’t even pay her to say that!

You can follow Fatima on twitter @fatimamawas
You can also like the facebook page for Fighting for Air
Click here for a full review

But most importantly you should check it out.

Fighting for Air is Fatima Mawas’ latest short film and it screens in Sydney, Saturday 30th June. Visit the Arab Film Festival website for more details including information on screenings in Canberra and Melbourne.