Saturday morning started pretty much like every other: a cold bedroom, frost on the window, the sound of the kettle boiling water, a bowl of cereals, honey and the unavoidable cup of tea.
But this Saturday was not going to be like any other; for it was the day I would finally see Maya on the big screen.
On Christmas day, I received a message from Tom, a friend and the producer of the short film, offering me a winning ticket to the London Short Film Festival (LSFF). Without too much hesitation, I told him I was going to be back in London by then and would therefore love to come and join the crew on their big day.
It was 11ish when I left my flat and embarked for what was going to be a very good day – one of the best in a long time to be honest. I stepped out of the entrance hall and walked down to Limehouse station, took the DLR to Bank, changed for the central line to go to Liverpool Street station and catch an Overground train to get to London Fields. Once there, it took me something like a five-minute walk to find myself in front of the Hackney Picture House, host of LSFF.
A few minutes later, I was joined by Tom, Veemsen, Maya’s film director, and their friend and sound designer, Michael. We all entered the cinema, picked up the tickets and went upstairs to find screen 3. Once all sat at the back of the room in the last row, the show wasn’t late starting.
Among the seven or so short films that were screened that morning, everyone in the group was obviously waiting for Maya. A beautiful universal story I wrote and published a review of in the evening…
‘Maya is a celebration of the beauty of life. No matter the obstacles, no matter the darkness and no matter the tears.’
After the screening, everyone gathered in the hall of the cinema downstairs and talked for a quite long time. About the different short films they’d just seen, about Maya, and about future projects. It was nice. It was a real immersion into a world that is not completely mine, but not completely different either, for we’re all telling stories – everyone in their own way, that’s all.
Once the last discussion came to an end, Tom, Veemsen, Michael and I were en route for some food and hot drinks in a horrifyingly cold weather. We left Hackney Picture House and walked towards Hackney central, crossed a main road, where we bumped into a friend from uni who had just moved in in the area, and eventually stopped in a quite local café.
It felt like one of those places only habitués go to, where waitresses have eyes empty of dreams and hopes and don’t bother that much anymore because their café isn’t shiny and new, and where the decoration fluctuated between a sort of American style and a kind of nonsense.
On the menu were quintessentially British dishes, among which we first ordered some tea and coffee to warm ourselves up a little bit, and the guys then ordered three fish and chips, while I preferred to stick to a basic cheese sandwich (#safeoption).
I think we stayed in there for slightly more than two hours, until they closed. In between trying to learn to know each other, I witnessed three young bright spirits talk about their filming projects, their ambitions, their dreams, and beheld their passion emerge from all this, and I must say that was quite beautiful.
Among their numerous plans, there is a new short film, Chyanti. This new journey will take them back to Nepal (in Mustang), where a strong narrative awaits to be shot and turned into moving images. Right now, they’re still looking for contributors, who would then get a special thanks or associate producer credit. I know most of the people who’ll read this won’t have seen Maya, but if you’re here, reading this, right now, it somehow means you trust me, and my judgement, so I’m telling you this: these people are worth it, their ideas are worth it, all of it. And I’d like to call on those of you who – like me, like them – still believe that art can change the world and would rather spend their money backing up art projects such as this one rather than buying themselves a packet of cigarettes or any other useless items.
Slightly before the café closed, we were joined by Arran, Maya’s director of photography. He possessed as much magic and kindness in his eyes and his whole being as the three others. I think that’s what amazed me most. These guys are gigantic dreamers, but also doers, and they are inhabited by this endless optimism, always looking at life on the bright side, which reminded me of the person I was before I lost my dad. And for some reason, that day spent with them rekindled this always-so-positive part of me…
And for the first time in a long time, it felt like everything was finally going to be ok.
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If you wish to check their work, please click the following links below (and should you want to contribute to their next short film, ‘Chyanti’, please feel free to contact Tom at email@example.com):