By Katie Chambers
Welcome to NYWIFT, Aisha Amin!
Aisha is an NYC-based writer and director. As a director, her work expands across narrative, documentary, and experimental forms to tell authentic stories built from real experiences. Her past film projects have explored and highlighted overlooked communities particularly in New York City, including formerly incarcerated mothers and communities struggling with the presence of gentrification in their neighborhoods.
In addition to her directing, Aisha is an emerging screenwriting and was selected to participate in Cine Qua Non’s 2022 Screenwriting Lab. She is a 2022 recipient of NYFA’s Tomorrowland Grant and a 2021 recipient of the NYFA Women’s Fund grant. She was a recipient of the 2019-2020 Sally Burns Shenkman Woman Filmmaker Fellowship at the Jacob Burns Film Center where she directed two short documentaries. She is also a recipient of The Shed’s Open Call Fellowship where she expanded her film practice to installation art.
Aisha spoke to us about her favorite styles of storytelling, the intersection of narrative and documentary, and her latest projects.
Tell us about yourself – give us your elevator pitch!
I’m Aisha! I’m a NYC based writer and director. I was born in Nairobi, Kenya and my family moved to New York when I was really young – so this city is a huge part of my life and my work. I’m interested in telling stories about community resilience within immigrant communities. I work across documentary, narrative and experimental forms of filmmaking and I am interested in exploring new modes of watching and experiencing film and storytelling.
You work across many mediums and genres, from narrative to documentary to commercial to experimental. What is the throughline that ties all of your work together? How do you shift gears when switching from one type of work to the next?
All of my storytelling is very much rooted in truth and authentic experiences. I find that the more specific and detailed we are with our experiences, the more universally they are received. I’m interested in having a conversation with an audience and using film as a form of education and awareness, but also as a filmmaker, it’s my attempt at fostering connection and I think that can be done across a diverse array of genres and forms of storytelling.
I saw you were selected for Issa Rae’s inaugural Color Creative For your People Program. That’s amazing! What was that experience like? How did it help you develop as an artist?
Actually, we are going into production on a short film that was funded through this production in the Winter of 2023. It has been a wonderful experience and the first time I have directed a film that I didn’t also write. While challenging, it taught me some really valuable people skills, communication skills, and made me really aware of how my ideas will come across to those that don’t necessarily share the same references of experiences I do.
Congratulations on your recent recognition as a NYWIFT Outstanding Content Creator at the Katra Film Series! Tell us more about that project.
Thank you! Screening at Katra was wonderful – I am grateful to be a part of a community that values short filmmaking and independent storytellers – it’s rare that shorts get much attention within the industry but it’s my favorite form to work in, and for Katra to be able to celebrate that means a lot to me.
What kinds of projects excite you?
I’m most excited by working with non-actors, and exploring that line between fiction and documentary. I love using locations that are real and lived-in, and I am excited by projects that are integrated with real lived experience.
What is the best advice you ever received? And the worst?
Best: Your worth isn’t tied to what you make
Worst: Go out there and film something on your iPhone, it’s just as good!
And what is next for you?
I have a couple more short narrative films in the pipeline and am working on finishing up writing my first feature film!
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