SHORT FILM: “Burkini”

The three scenes above are from “Aimee Undercover,” a fifteen-minute short film which actually began as the complete version of two five-minute films that we submitted to the LinkTV filmmaking contest in the fall of 2007. Contestants were required to make a film no longer than five minutes promoting religious tolerance. I was intrigued by the availability of a swimsuit for pious Muslim women called “Burkini,” a portmanteau of “bikini” and “burqa.” I approached writer/director Sharbari with an idea that I had about a pretty convert to Islam who was compelled to wear the swimsuit to resume a lifeguarding job. The script addressed the theme of a woman’s ownership of her beauty; is society simply entitled to her beauty irrespective of her wish? Addressing such ideas meant going beyond the contest’s length requirement and the script easily grew to fifteen minutes. Believing that we could edit out two scenes and make two films that meet the five-minute length restriction, we went ahead and shot the full script at once. In retrospect, this was a risky move: instead of dividing our resources to produce the longer film, we could have put all our focus on the five-minute films for the contest.

To light the scenes, I had access to one Arri light kit and some basic flags. I utilized two cameras simultaneously for the beach scenes involving Asif, the non-believing male Muslim. The whole film was conceived and created in less than two weeks for the contest deadline. We shot the film over one weekend, the highlight of which was the crane shot of a house. Our film became a semi-finalist.

Our first submission to the LinkTV contest, a comedy entitled “Burkini,” was the beach scene featuring Asif in the clip above with minor changes. The following film, a drama, was our other submission to the contest:

To view the full 15-minute version of “Aimee Undercover,” please visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1433515/videogallery.

I received the ultimate validation of our idea a few days after we wrapped production. As it happened, I coincidentally met a young female convert to Islam and I showed her “Aimee Undercover.” She was very touched and said it was one of the most realistic depictions of being a female convert that she had seen recently.

ROLES: STORY BY, CO-PRODUCER, DP, EDITOR

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