The short film, Open Doors, was a finalist in the 2021 Health for All Film Festival by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The film is a collaboration with 10 young people from 10 countries in different fields sharing their feelings, fears, hopes and actions taken during the Covid-19 pandemic. No matter how big or small, they found hope and took actions that inspired others to get past this unprecedented period of loss and uncertainty.
The opening scene narration:
When all our doors closed, when the world stopped, we were all surrounded by fear. But when there is fear, there is also hope.
I interviewed the filmmaker and director, Breech Harani about his reasons and vision for making his short film.
1) What inspired the film collaboration for Open Doors?
During the strict lockdown in the Philippines, I was so eager to make something during quarantine that I created a Philippine-wide collab for an experimental film 'Window'. After that film won in Taiwan, I thought to challenge myself more and make another film but this time a worldwide collaboration. And that's how Open Doors began. Since the majority of us were feeling really hopeless about the crisis, I thought I should create something that would encourage people around the world by presenting these inspiring young people from 10 countries.
2) What was the main message you wanted to communicate in your film?
Social media during that time was very messed up. People are fighting and there's so much misinformation going on. I made the film specifically to tell people that the only way we can overcome the crisis is through Unity. And it helps that the film features different people's insights to combat indifference, be more open-minded, and to cooperate with health protocols.
3) How did you find and select your collaborators featured in the film?
All of the people featured in Open Doors are individuals I collaborated with and met in some special moments in my life when I was still traveling across the globe. I selected them for their backgrounds in volunteerism, arts, advocacy, and civic participation. They have made very important contributions to their communities depending on their field of practice.
4) You won a Young Creatives Award and been listed by Forbes Magazine for the '30 Under 30' Class of 2020. What message do you have from youth in 2021 and beyond?
I really wish for the youth to be more involved in social discourse in the present and in the future. We don't have to invent something or make something mind-blowing. A simple expression of their thoughts in a responsible way can already make a difference, whether it be through the arts, through social media, or sports, any action or simple solutions matter to make this world a better place.
5) Is there anything else you’d like to say about the "OPEN DOORS” film?
Open Doors is a passion project that would never be possible without the help of the players featured in the film. Without hesitation, these amazing young people agreed to film themselves to spread a message of hope in a time when it feels hopeless. And for that, I am very thankful for them.
6) How did the film's collaborators -- all young people -- feel about the project?
The best part about working together is learning about all the experience in the room. It's heartwarming knowing so many people are motivated to work on the same thing. This project particularly was interesting because everyone made it in the confines of their homes and that added this element of intimacy.
-Moiz Khan (Pakistan)
When I was asked to take part in the project, I was in the middle of living under complete self isolation at home, due to the global pandemic. I feel somewhat disconnected from the world. The Open Doors project somewhat allowed me to relate and feel connected to the different people involved within it, showing that despite our diversity; there's something that we share and ties us all together, as humans. That was a really meaningful experience to have for such unprecedented event.
-Mariyam Yasmin Baagil (Indonesia)
What I like about the film is how it depicts ordinary humans with very different backgrounds going through an unimaginable global event. It affirms our common humanity.
-Alejandro Gonzales-Permingeat (Argentina)
This film has allowed me and everyone in this project to participate in a cause that is relevant in our time today. Open doors is about how different people around the globe rise above the fears and uncertainties brought by the pandemic. The project has helped and inspired a lot of people struggling with the pandemic and to be part of it is an honor and a reminder that I did something sensible and purposeful last year.
-Ace Perez (Philippines)
I found working on the project quite cathartic, and it was great to focus energy on something creative during what was quite a bleak time. I was also personally really excited to work with Breech as his creativity is inspiring to me. I’m sure it won’t be the last collaboration!
I love the message of the film. I think it opened an avenue to process the world situation and an honest dialogue on what the ’new normal’ would be. It was comforting hearing from others around the world, a reminder that even though we were physically many miles away from each other, we remained connected during this extraordinary point in our collective history.
-Funke Alafiatayo (UK)
OPEN DOORS Film Global Collaborators
Directed and Produced by Breech Asher Harani
In collaboration for production with
Ace Junrell Perez (Davao, Philippines)
Alejandro Gonzales Permingeat (General Arenales, Argentina)
Funke Alafiatayo (Manchester, UK)
Mariyam Yasmin Baagil (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Ioana Vatamanu-Margineanu (Chisinau, Moldova)
Gisela Perez (Coatzacoalcos, Mexico)
Moiz Khan (Peshawar, Pakistan)
Nurlan Jahangirli (Hamburg, Germany)
Ernesto Ferreira (Porto Alegre, Brazil)
Jojo Xie (Changsha, China)
Mary Ann Valiente-Marinas