Last February my four-and-a-half years of studying at TUA came to an end. It was quite a challenging journey and I appreciate my time, people I met and experience I gained there. As a freshman who just entered a new level of his life, I was so much enthusiastic, feeling lively and all that. In the middle of this incredibly energetic atmosphere, I was encountered with Nahal Film Festival. Back then a student-based independent event, organized and managed by cinema students. The very idea of a team effort to support a cause, in this case, short film, was both new and exciting for me.
I got involved in 10th Nahal Short Film Festival by producing video and preparing set decoration material. I clearly remember the day we were coloring the styrofoam cubes with my senior college mates, Sina, Sadaf, and Majid. The executive responsibility of organizing Nahal is assigned to the second-year students but that year, there were a lot of senior students helping. Right when we were mixing colors, I was thinking that why are they even doing this? Isn’t a little low standard? I somehow got my answer through the next four years but I find a rather different yet more convincing one, just a few weeks back.
The next edition of Nahal was supposed to be held by our entry students. This year I got more involved as social media manager, visual content creator and video producer. I also submitted my film to the festival but it was only accepted in non-competitive section. Back then I was furious. My film was an independent and low budget project. It wasn’t a masterpiece, maybe not even a good film but the fact that we had films with enormous production and budgets in the main competition made me so angry. Cause I believed (and still do) that Nahal should be accepting high-quality “student” projects. That’s when I decided to contribute in enhancing the festival’s regulations by entering the Cinema Student Society, a University association which was in charge of legal background of Nahal. No matter how hard we tried to change some terms, we were unsuccessful because of the 12th edition director’s lack of vision and reason. He blindly fought with every suggestion that we had. He tried to undermine our good intentions and make a scene in every single meeting. Despite our differences, I willingly offered my help but he was too arrogant to work with. The 12th Nahal Film Festival turned out to be a disaster in both executive issues and the quality of films. It showed how the person in charge and his/her behavior is a crucial factor in managing such events.
The next edition of Nahal which marked the first year to receive International films was just a cleaner version of what happened the previous year. Poor management, ridiculous sections’ increase, lack of visual unity and much more proved that Nahal is just in a wrong way and is getting further away every year.
I completely lost my faith and even didn’t submit my film to the festival for two years. My vision for Nahal and its countless capacities were fading. Every person who I voted for to be festival’s director was lost in the election, although I’m confident now that wouldn’t make much of a difference, in overall. So, exactly a year ago, I met the new director accidentally on a short film stage. I didn’t know her well and I didn’t even vote for her. Khatoon was (and is) an energetic person full of desires and new ideas. I liked her approaches for Nahal but I had a deal with myself, to not get involved with Nahal ever again. She asked for my help to redesign the festival’s promo which I worked on a few years back. I made a new deal with myself: “Let’s just do this tiny task and I’m done with the whole Nahal thing”. Sure!
In the next three months, I did a few more little tasks and also accepted to design the festival’s website. I was like: “This is it. No more Nahal job. I have things of my own to do!”. I even told Khatoon I’m not gonna post anything on the website cause I might not be available, so please find somebody for this job. I think all I wanted to do was to run away from Nahal and all the useless stupid projects that I accept and regret later.
I guess the night that we launched the website was when I started to let my guard down. I’m not sure what was the real reason there but I’m guessing a combination of nostalgia and sympathy. I began to remember what I liked about this festival. This was like a night journey on a dark road while your cars’ lights only show you the upcoming 100 meters. Eventually, we reached the end of the road but I wasn’t sure what I’m going to encounter and do regarding the next 100 meter. In this metaphor, the destination was unknown. Something was silently dragging me toward this road with its fascinating scent. Fascinating enough to make me realize what I had and what I was pursuing in life was not that important.
Eventually, I found myself more than involved in the festival. I was feeling sorta the same way as the first time. I also decided to submit my film. There was no job that I didn’t wanna do for Nahal (or actually that scent’s source), like the first year. I realized that all that I’m doing is not for the good of the festival but for my own’s sake. The things we do with the people we love, creating things together, make us feel useful, valuable and meaningful. Exactly a month ago we were coloring styrofoam decorations, again. This time for the 14th Nahal Film Festival opening ceremony and with my new friends. After three and a half years I was on the starting point of this loop with far more experience and a lot of memories. In this point, I thought I finally know what was keeping Sina, Majid, and Sadaf, sitting on the ground, painting foams. But when I looked back and reviewed my own journey through this circle, I saw how all of this has been so personal for me. My personal intentions, feelings, and decisions were all forming my path toward this ending.
Now I feel really done with Nahal and whatever good memories it created for me. Nahal was like an adventure movie that ended happily for me. Although it depends on the point you choose for ending the story which I want to believe is this: The night of the awards ceremony and moments before I fell asleep (somewhere around 5 A.M) after 3 days without sleeping, in that moments, I received my reward which was somehow the hope for a new start, supposedly by leaving everything behind.
P.S: I remember how much I wanted to win an award from Nahal. It finally happened this year and made me so happy, not because of its value or even the fact that I wanted this for a long time. I love this statute and I mean this very physical form of it, only for one reason which is irrelevant to filmmaking or my desire for this festival.