In January 2020, POV asked Midnight Traveler filmmaker Hassan Fazili what's happened since the cameras stopped rolling.
Where is your family now? [Status change since film] Have you found asylum in Europe?
Our family arrived in Germany in April 2018, and we applied for asylum. The German government declined our request and told us to go back to Hungary. If we didn’t comply we’d be deported back to Hungary anyway. We left and lived in a very bad situation until November 2019. We couldn’t sleep at night with the fear of police expulsion.
However we didn’t give up and we fought to overcome the problems. We made many friends in Germany – great people who helped us a lot. Others in the film industry supported us too including festivals like the Berlinale, IDFA, Diritti Umani and Lugano.
We finally got permanent residency in Germany recently and have settled. Our family is loved, especially the kids. My daughter Nargis is in 5th grade and Zahra in 1st. We live in the small city of Lennestadt but are contemplating a move to a bigger city, possibly Berlin.
Do you still keep in touch with the art scene in Kabul? Do you hope to return?
I’m exploring new ideas with some friends and colleagues via the internet. I would love to show Midnight Traveler in Afghanistan. Although I’m in Europe now, a part of me is still in Afghanistan. I’d like to go back someday.
Both your daughters have beautiful and resilient spirits, exuding a sense of independence and creativity that seems to be a reflection of you and Fatima (and even helping shoot this doc). Have they expressed any interest in becoming a filmmaker and artist themselves?
Nargis and Zahra are different in some ways, and similar in others. Both of them like the arts- music, painting, dancing, acting and filmmaking. Sometimes, they take videos of us. Right now, Fatima and I, as their parents, don’t want to force anything on them regarding their futures. On the contrary, we want to help them decide their future themselves. That said, if they choose filmmaking or cinema, I will be happy and support them will all of my abilities.
This film has been released and out in the world for about 5 months now. What do you hope viewers learn from, connect with, or remember about your film? What do you hope is the response to this film?
While it’s true that this film’s story belongs to my family, it’s not just my family’s story. There are many families around the world that are forced to leave their home and country because of war and oppression. I want my audiences around the world to see this movie and have it act as a catalyst for removing borders. By watching this film, I want to inspire people to be hopeful about life, and to try to make life better for themselves and everybody else.
Are you or Fatima working on anything new?
I am working prodigiously hard on a screenplay. My friend Zahir Rashed is helping me with the translation and screenwriting. I am hoping that I can raise the funds to produce this new movie. Fatima is also writing a short screenplay. I am helping her when I can. We (Fatima and I) are very hopeful about making our next films, and working very hard to make it happen.