A Pakistani-Norwegian beauty who started as an actress, Iram Haq made a bold and personal feature debut with “I Am Yours.” A heart-wrenching drama turning on a lonely single mother struggling to find love and face her judgmental mother, the film world-preemed at Toronto, played at Les Arcs Intl. film fest and is competing for a Dragon Award at Goteborg. Critically-acclaimed, “I Am Yours” won best feature at the Nordic Film Days in Lubeck and was chosen to represent Norway in the Oscar’s foreign-language race.
Haq, who’s now been identified as one of Europe’s top emerging directors, has recently been signed by ICM.
Her past credits also include the Venice-competiting short “Old Faithful,” which she penned wrote and starred in. Haq’s directorial debut, the colorful short “Little Miss Eyeflap,” had its world premiere at Sundance and went to play at various festivals.
Variety: How autobiographical is the movie? And why did you want to make such a personal film as your feature debut?
Iram Haq: I wanted to tell a story about how life works out when you are not really connected to your family, when you become an outsider; how would life turns out when you don’t feel loved by your parents, when you try your very best but you do not know what the very best is, when you are lost and rootless. How will you know who loves you or who doesn’t? And how can you give love to your child when you haven’t been loved and don’t feel love for yourself? I wanted to challenge myself with making a vulnerable, unvarnished and honest movie. So yes, the story is fiction but very much inspired by myself.
How did you cast the characters of Jasper and Mina? Did you write the part with Amrita in mind?
Finding my actors was a long journey. I searched everywhere to find the right Mina. It took me one and a half year to find her. When I auditioned Amrita I instantly knew she was the right girl. Ola was much easier! I saw him in a movie and I knew that he was the right one.
It was hard to find actors in Norway who would like to play in this movie, which has a controversial edge. So I brought many of my actors from other countries and communities, the mother is from Pakistan, grandmother and main character are from London, and several of the other actors are Indian-Norwegians and just some few have Norwegian- Pakistani background.
“I Am Yours” seems completely different from your short in every respect. Why did you make such a big departure? Which film do you feel is closer to you, in terms of narrative style?
I did love making ‘Little Miss Eyeflap’, but I wanted to challenge myself to dare to make a story which will be scary to make for myself. Which was not polished and hidden behind humor, beauty and fantastic production design. I wanted to do something new, tell a true and naked story. I think I like both ways of telling stories. I believe different stories need different ways of telling them.
Who are the filmmakers and artists from Norway and beyond who influence your work?
I admire many artists at home and abroad, but it’s more real life and everyday people who inspire me.
What do you think about today’s emerging filmmakers in Norway and do you identify with them? Are you part of a new wave of Norwegian directors?
I think there are a lot of exciting filmmakers coming up now. It’s an exciting and inspiring time we are in. There’s a nice collegiate crowd at home. I am certainly proud to be a part of our film community here in Norway.
Is it important for you to make a film that travels to festivals and play worldwide?
I think it’s an amazing and important journey for my movie to be played worldwide and allow people to discover a story dealing with such issues as being an outsider.
You’ve just been signed by ICM in the U.S.. Are you looking to make a film in English-language? What kind of scripts are your reading?
I am very happy to have been signed by ICM. I am reading several interesting stories and hopefully I will do an English movie one day.
What is your next film, “The Way Back,” about?
“The Way Back” is a story about a young Norwegian-Pakistani girl, who was born and raised in Norway, and got kidnapped by her father to Pakistan. It deals with life in Pakistan and life in limbo.