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Midnight Traveler

Producers Emelie Mahdavian, Su Kim


In 2015, Hassan Fazili’s documentary Peace aired on Afghan national television. After it aired, the Taliban assassinated the film’s main subject and put a price on Hassan’s head. He looked at his wife and his daughters, and he knew they had to flee their home.

Over the course of their multi-year saga in search of safety, the family grasps onto the only means they have to assert control over their situation: their three camera phones. Hassan and his wife Fatima are both filmmakers, and they are educating their daughters and encouraging them to be artists. The whole family shoots this autobiographical film, which begins when they seek and are rejected for refugee protection and follows them along the notorious Balkan smuggling route. As they experience increasingly degrading circumstances, the family latches on to filmmaking as a way to not just survive, but retain their humanity.

Their journey takes them through Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary. Now they await a response on their case, imprisoned within a Hungarian camp and surrounded by tall barbed wire fencing.

About The Team

Hassan Fazili (Director, Camera) created theater, documentaries, short films, and several popular television serials in Afghanistan. In 2011, he was selected by the British Council to attend Sheffield/DocFest for documentary filmmaking, networking and training. His films Mr. Fazili’s Wife and Life Again! both push the envelope on issues of women’s, children’s and disability rights in Afghanistan, and have screened and won awards at numerous international festivals. He also worked as a Location Manager for Feo Aladag’s In Between Worlds, which premiered at Berlinale 2014, and as a Camera Operator for the IDFA selection Voice of A Nation: My Journey Through Afghanistan. His documentary Peace in Afghanistan, made for national television, profiled Taliban commander Mullah Tur Jan, who laid down arms in favor of a peaceful civilian life.

Emelie Mahdavian (Producer, Editor) is a filmmaker and Fulbright scholar who focuses on Central Asian cinema. Her feature documentary After the Curtain, about the struggles of four women dancers in Tajikistan, premiered at Lincoln Center as part of the 44th Dance on Camera and continues to screen at festivals worldwide. Her experimental motion capture dance film Intangible Body, exploring censorship of women’s dance in Iran, is being exhibited at museums and international festivals. She was previously Director of the Davis Feminist Film Festival, Panels Coordinator for the Mill Valley Film Festival, and she has worked in film and television production for FX, Amazon, Columbia Pictures, HBO, CBS, and ABC. Emelie studied Filmmaking at London Film School, Music and Philosophy at Mills College and New England Conservatory of Music, and has a Ph.D. in Performance Studies with an emphasis in Film Practice as Research from the University of California, Davis, where she also teaches Film Studies and Cinema and Digital Media.

Cinereach engages with film projects through a number of financing, production and support models. Midnight Traveler is a Cinereach grantee.