Asad Raza Khan as Yasir in Nazah Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A dark film made by a group of Dubai residents has just been selected for screening at the prestigious Berlin Flash Film Festival.

Nazah director Hammad Shaikh said this is the third international milestone for the film, which released on July 20. “Nazah has already been screened at the AAB International Film Festival in Punjab and the International Cult Film Festival in Kolkata. The Berlin Flash Film Fest entry is a great honour for us.”

Nazah, which translates into death throes or agony, revolves round a depressed, suicidal young man, Yasir, played by theatre actor Asad Raza Khan, and his sister, Sarah (played by Hiba Khan), who tries to help him.

Day jobs

A brand designer, Shaikh said the eight-minute film was completely shot and produced in the UAE by a set of people who had busy day jobs and pursued the venture out of sheer passion. “People ask us why we chose the theme of depression and I honestly say it was pure coincidence. We had been toying with a few ideas and the scriptwriter, Arif Afzal, had penned this story four years ago when mental health issues were still not openly talked about. However, theatre actor Asad Raza Khan, who happened to read the script earlier this year, was convinced that this was the right time to shoot the film as there was a lot of emphasis on the need to create greater awareness about depression.”

He said, “Often, it’s not just those who are suffering from depression who go through a struggle. Even those around them lack the necessary tools to handle the situation.”

The story may focus on the problem of depression and how it can be addressed, but the film itself is a reflection of how strong interests can drive even the busiest of people to get creative. Shaikh said, “All of us in the cast and crew have full-time jobs during the day. But it is our passion for films that brought us together to make Nazah.”

Shaikh said he and Afzal had started an initiative called Kahaani Baaz or Storytellers to pursue the art of writing stories and explore the possibility of filming them. “We now realise is’s not as difficult as we thought it would be,” he added.