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BERLINALE 2020 Panorama

Faraz Shariat • Director of No Hard Feelings

“People suffer everyday racism in the form of not being entitled to decide themselves who they are”

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- BERLINALE 2020: We discussed the feature No Hard Feelings with its director, Faraz Shariat, to find out more about its themes and its origins

Faraz Shariat  • Director of No Hard Feelings

Faraz Shariat studied Media Art in order to explore his experiences as a gay, second-generation migrant. He grew up in Cologne, the son of exiled Iranians. His film No Hard Feelings [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Faraz Shariat
film profile
]
debuted in the Panorama section of the 70th Berlinale and went on to win the Teddy Award. Cineuropa went to his Berlin offices, where he works as part of the Jünglinge collective, who work on queer, feminist and anti-racist films.

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Cineuropa: Where does the original idea for No Hard Feelings stem from?
Faraz Shariat: It was in 2014 or 2015: I had a phase when I had recently obtained a security tag remover. I used it to shoplift, a lot. When I got caught, I was sentenced to serve community service in a refugee shelter. That was the time when people were talking a lot about refugees coming to Germany. And with me being second generation but not really being so attached to the migratory history of my family, I was always somehow observing these things happening but without feeling very connected to them. I was busy with my own life and my situation as a queer, raver kid into pop culture. That was the first time when I understood what was happening, translating for people who looked similar to me, or who might seem very similar to me from the perspective of a white, German gaze.

What happened next?
I started to approach people and began an intense, one-and-a-half-year research phase. I had all my experiences as a second-generation German Iranian to draw on, but then I also wanted to collect a lot of other opinions on life as a migrant in Germany. The premise is based on my life and experience working at the refugee centre. I also used my parents as part of the film; they act in it as the parents of the protagonist, Parvis.

The first line of the film, in a club, sees a German boy ask Parvis, “Where are you from?” It’s a question that crops up throughout the movie. Why did you decide to put it up top like this?
It was essential to immediately tackle the fact that this film is coming from a position where people suffer everyday racism in the form of not conforming to the norm, in the form of not being entitled to decide themselves who they are. Other people project their ideas of where you could be from on you. Also, in terms of creating an alliance with our PoC [people of colour] audience right at the beginning, it was imperative to say that this feature is predominantly for our fellows and our community.

How did you strike the delicate balance between making a film about homosexuality in migrant communities and also one about feelings of belonging?
Some people want this film to be about a gay boy, while other people want it to be about racism. For me, it’s about all of these multiple facets because these things are happening at the same time. It was always about having an intersectional perspective on race, class, gender and homosexuality. Obviously, it also derives from where he is working, in a refugee centre. The aspect of migration and the dichotomy between migration and racism are super-important for this movie, and were maybe even the core motivation for me to work on this feature.

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