Iram Haq’s debut film I Am Yours, tells the story of Mina (Amrita Acharia), a young Pakistani single mother living in Norway along with her 7-year-old son. Daughter of traditional expatriate Pakistani parents, every decision she makes is disapproved by her own family, specially being divorce, which brings "shame to the family".
Mina is a struggling actress that fails to land anything, a job or love. Everything changes when she meets Jesper (Ola Rapace), a Swedish filmmaker who initially seems to be a perfect match. Yearning for love and acceptance, she starts neglecting her son, trying to please her selfish urges to find love.
In this multicultural drama, the character of Mina is extremely flawed, irresponsible and needy, but at the same time, she is relatable and understandable. By involving herself with emotionally damaged men, she finds herself surrounded by bad decisions on a verge of a breaking point.
Beautiful Amrita Acharia delivers a killer performance where she bares all her insecurities to portray Mina's worst moments as a mother. It's a wonderful character study that will leave you brokenhearted and wishing for Mina to take responsibility and break free from her guilt.
I am Yours was Norway's Best Foreign-Language Oscar submission of 2014 and deserved to be chosen as a representation of European cinema.
I spoke to Iram Haq about her latest film I am Yours.
Gomes: How was the process of shooting this film and how this idea came about?
Haq: I wanted to tell a story about a woman who has not been loved by her parents and left her roots, what kind of life she would live and how will she find love out there when she doesn't know what love is, and, can she really give love if she doesn't feel love. I had these thoughts and questions in my mind when I worked on this movie.
The whole movie was like a journey. From writing, shooting, editing to the very end. I wrote, shot some parts of the movie, rewrote. Then I edited again, shot some more scenes, it was very dynamic and interesting way to dig deeper into Mina's struggles and issues.
Gomes: Even though the main plot focuses on Mina, a Pakistani girl living in Norway, the film sucessfully displays her multicultural struggles. She is able to create a connection with all viewers through the feelings of lonesome and love. It feels extremely personal, as something that came straight from your heart. Why tell this story and how this story relates to you?
Haq: In many ways this story is very much inspired by myself and my experiences and my fear of losing my child. I have Norwegian-Pakistani background and I had a big struggle with culture clash, identity issues and I felt very much lost and lonely as a human being in these two cultures. These subjects were important and very present in me and I felt a need to explore more about these subjects.
Gomes: I imagine it would be hard to find actors to portray a Norwegian- Pakistani family. How was the casting process? As an actress yourself, why not play Mina?
Haq: I wanted to just focus on the writing and directing this story, that's why I never acted in this film. It was a long journey to find the right Mina. I had about 25 girls into this role. It was very hard to find someone who would dare to act in a movie like I am Yours with a similar background as I have. Amrita Acharia was great and it felt right to choose her for the Mina character even if she didn't had Pakistani background.
Gomes: The reaction towards this movie has been amazing, the film was selected for so many different awards, most impressively; it was the Norwegian Submission for the Oscars for Foreign Film. How have you been receiving this response from all over the world?
Haq: It has been an amazing journey! I am very thankful and happy for all the nice words and response. I love that people have a love/hate relationship with Mina. Some judge her, some feel sorry for her. I just wanted to try to portrait a woman who is not perfect. But she is trying her very best out of what she knows and where she comes from.
Gomes: In your opinion, where is Mina now?
Haq: I hope Mina is loving herself a little bit more, so she can go back and pick up her son and take care of him.
Gomes: Movie fan to movie fan, who or what inspired (or inspires) you to keep creating and making movies? Any recent movie you watched that you would like to suggest to movie fans out there?
Haq: I think living life and human beings painful experiences inspires me to make stories. I loved Like father, Like son from Koreeda. It's a beautiful piece.
Gomes: What are your next projects?
Haq: I am writing on a script about a Norwegian-Pakistani teenage girl who get kidnapped to Pakistan by her parents and her life turns upside down.