Mohammed Jassim: A Bahraini film director goes to Hollywood

Mohammed Jassim

Since his early childhood, Bahraini film director Mohammed Jassim has loved the arts and drawing. In 1998 he started his training in computer drawing and digital graphics and then moved into directing TV commercials back in 2000. Since then, Mohammed has been developing his skills and made quite a name for himself.

I first spoke to 31-year-old Mohammed in June 2011 after his first short film – ‘The Power of Generations’ – came third in the Gulf Film Festival in Dubai. Now, this title and another short animation of Mohammed’s – ‘The Last Drop of Oil’ – have been nominated for the International Family Film Festival which will take place from March 21 to 25 in Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles. So, I got back in touch with Mohammed to see how he was getting on…

Mohammed at the Kazan International Festival of Muslim Cinema in Russia

What does it mean for you, as a Bahraini, to be recognised in Hollywood?

It means that I am approaching higher levels and my cinematic skills are significantly improving.

What inspired you to create an animated film using handmade puppets?

The unique taste of animation and the challenge of handling a very slow and hard task is what made me and Ibrahim Albuainain go into stop-motion animation. It was our dream and watching Tim Burton films (Nightmare before Christmas and Corpse Bride) attracted us to use handmade puppets that we can adjust and make alive in the film.

Ibrahim working with handmade puppets on the set of The Last Drop of Oil

What do you win if your films are selected?

Participating in Hollywood by itself is a success because being nominated for such festivals is very difficult.

What other directors and filmmakers do you admire at the moment?

Of course Tim Burton because his style of creativity and fantasy is very unique and Steven Spielberg because of his style of making film is very attractive and ambiguous which makes the person very curious about what is going to happen next.

Have recent political events in Bahrain affected your creativity at all?

As a Bahraini of course we feel sad about what happened to our lovely home but that hasn’t affected my creativity at all and thanks God.

What would you like to tell the world about your country?

I would like to tell the world that Bahrain is safe and we are very proud about the creative individuals who reflect the developments of our country locally and globally.

If you could do one thing in life – what would it be?

The only one thing would be to keep going in making such films because I like to send messages to all people and the only way I have is making films.

The Nominated Films:

The Power of Generations

This film was shot in Bahrain and shows a man on a bench who watches the world around him change and develop for six generations. Deserts turn to pastures and then to modern buildings until global wars break out. Eventually, all developments vanish and the scene goes back to the desert. “I used a man as the main character who actually represents humanity,” Mohammed said. “I wanted to convey a very important message throughout my film which is peace.”

The Power of Generations has been screened at the Gulf Film Festival, Kazan International Festival of Muslim Cinema in Russia, Cutout Film Festival in Mexico and Seoul International Film Festival in South Korea.

Last Drop of Oil

The Last Drop of Oil is an animated film which uses handmade puppets to tell the story of a character who preserved some oil and is trying to remember where he hid the last barrel. On finding the barrel he sees it is empty.

The message Mohammed is trying to get across is of oil conservation. The film’s tagline is “what shall we do after the last drop of oil”.

Mohammed made a point of thanking his cousin, Ibrahim Albuainain, who collaborated with him on this project. He said: “he is the one who made the puppet and animated them and he is core of making that film.

“He is the only one who shares the same dream as me about creating such type of films.”

In the Pipeline (as explained by Mohammed):

Who is the better (3D animation)

It tells the story of electronic gadgets from the past and present to future generations, arguing who thinks they are better than the other.

Amilion (stop-motion animation)

The occurrence of our novel will transpire in a mystical era, an era that obligates sacrifice and true feelings, to win your lover’s heart. One must compose and play a symphonic piece of love to reflect emotions of true love. This age was called the “Age of Love”. Living in this era, one hopeless romantic fell crazily in love with “Amilion” (our heroine), who shared the exact same feelings towards her admirer. However, Amilion believed in the symphony of love and her admirer didn’t have the ability to compose a piece despite the fact that he loved her dearly. After the birth of a new love affair, Amilion abandoned her admirer that would have sacrificed anything whatsoever for the sake of her love and claimed that she wouldn’t return until her symphony of love was recited to her.

Last Minute War (historical film)

A historical story about a soldier who was dying and at that moment he remembers every moment of his life. The goal of the film is patriotism.

For more information visit Mohammed’s website.