February 28 2015
Evocative and poetic at times, this is one film that you’re unlikely to forget seeing quickly…
LOOKING for something absorbing, memorable, and intense – but also stylishly bleak?
You should see “Catch Me Daddy” then, a film about a teenage Yorkshire Muslim Pakistani origin teenage girl, who elopes with her white boyfriend, knowing her family will never accept such an union.
Some of you may be slightly irritated by the storyline – another negative representation of a community already much casually and carelessly maligned.
Yet it’s wrong to simply dismiss these films out of hand, as one of its leads, Wasim Zakir (pictured above in the film), who plays the girl’s father, told www.asianculturevulture.com and besides – for the person who takes cinema seriously, there is something to admire here.
Without giving too much away, the two characters’ paths cross and it is extraordinarily powerful and tense – a confrontation, yes, but it also has depth and complexity, and the acting is of the highest order – and that is not just us saying that.
Last year, Sameena Jabeen Ahmed (pictured below), who played the teenager ‘Laila’ in the movie, won a BFI London Film Festival best newcomer award and a British independent film award for most promising newcomer. “Catch Me Daddy” was her first feature film.
The film is directed by Daniel and Matthew Wolfe in what is their first feature too. It has some pedigree as it showed at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes last year and the Wolfes have a background in commercials and music videos. It’s been a film festival favourite too.
One of the producers of the film is from a Muslim background and the Wolfes have stated their sensitivity to the subject matter and talked to members from the the community as they scripted it – but if you didn’t know all that you might still be wary.
Zakir confided: “It was 50/50 whether Sameena would do the film, they (the filmmakers) sat down with her family and had a chat. It was a difficult casting process.”
Ahmed was unavailable for interview, but it’s clear the film belongs to her character, a conflicted young girl caught between doing what she wants and family tradition and expectation.
Zakir, who has been in the business a few years, said he was mightily impressed by the debutant and if you see the film you’ll see why the BFI London Film Festival jury back in October were so taken.
The scene between them is as harrowing a scene as you will see this year – possibly even for a few years.
“I didn’t feel she was an actress in her first film, when she was being as natural as she was, I found myself to be in the moment. It made my job easier,” revealed Zakir.
The Wolfes said they were looking for a girl who was confident – even ballsy – but also underneath, vulnerable and a tad scared. Ahmed is definitely a face to watch.
Talking about that scene, Zakir said: “It was pretty much the last one to be shot; she had done the whole film up until that point, so maybe the first few days were a bit nerve-wracking but the team was great around her and Daniel knew exactly what he wanted.”
Zakir said he has no real sense of how the communities around his native Dewsbury, Yorkshire will react – the film was shot in the area and used non-professional (Asian) actors as well as those like Zakir with more experience.
When he did the blackly comic Chris Morris film, “Four Lions”, (2010) about four bumbling British Jihadists, he braced himself. (He plays Ahmed, who in appearance and his views on women is ultra-orthodox, but still argues that violence is wrong with Omar, the leader of the four, played by Riz Ahmed).
“It’s a bit of a difficult question,” Zakir said honestly when asked about the possible reaction now to “Catch Me Daddy”.
“Sometimes you are expecting totally the opposite of what happens – I was afraid with ‘Four Lions’ there was going to be a backlash but everybody absolutely loved it.”
He knows a few will probably condemn “Catch Me Daddy” without watching or really appreciating the cultural dynamics at play.
His other previous screen acting experience – debuting in a BBC Films feature “Love + Hate” (2005) and the powerful TV drama, “Britz” , shows perhaps that he is drawn to work that covers the potentially combustible area of interracial/interfaith relationships and British Asian identity.
“I personally feel it’s (‘Catch Me Daddy’) an important film that needed to be made.
“To me it makes a statement (- about trying to stop the stifling control of women – ) and that is going to benefit society and to me it’s not a problem at all, but obviously everyone has their own opinions,” said the married man.
“It (‘Catch Me Daddy’) does play to a certain stereotype,” Zakir conceded. “But you can’t be afraid of showing a stereotype if you’re actually showing a reality, you can’t dilute it.”
The fact is, it happens – ‘honour crimes’ as they are commonly referred to, have been going on a while and it isn’t the exclusive preserve of just one community.
“It’s a story about a girl who has these issues, and there are lots of cases where girls have run away and then people coming looking for them,” said Zakir.
Indeed, “Catch Me Daddy” is based on newspaper reports the film directors had come across.
“There is a particular story that Daniel focused on,” explained Zakir. “It happens, maybe not daily in this country, but in other countries it happens all the time.”
Zakir hasn’t done a whole slate of films – he prefers to be highly selective and has a profession to fall back on.
An IT graduate, he told www.asianculturevulture.com: “I go for projects every now and then – and for work that is of a certain standard. I don’t have to rely on acting for my income.”
He hasn’t got any solid offers at present, but he said when his films hit the screen, the phone tends to ring. It will – or it should.
“I would like to do acting full-time but it must be the kind of work I want to do,” said the 39-year-old who freely offers his age when asked, unlike some.
He got into acting, dabbling in drama at university while studying computer science and performing in the theatre before being asked to work on “Love + Hate”, which you can watch on Youtube.
*’Catch Me Daddy’ – opened on February 27 in the UK