Postgraduate Media students from the University of Sussex, Matthew Gibson and Kate Drucquer have spent the past few months creating a documentary about Oxford-based photographer, Kazem Hakimi. Titled, A WHITE WALL, after the space at the back of Hakimi’s Fish and Chip Shop in which he captures his subjects, the documentary follows Hakimi’s journey towards his solo exhibition, Portraits from a Chip Shop, held at Modern Art Oxford and Arts at the Old Fire Station from 2 May – 2 July 2017. In this latest Channel post, we present the final documentary and hear about Matt and Kate’s experience of making the film, including how they first heard about Hakimi’s work.
A WHITE WALL – a documentary by Matthew Gibson and Kate Drucquer
“In July last year, BBC Oxford ran a short video about photographer and Fish and Chip shop owner Kazem Hakimi and it showed up in my Facebook news feed. I shared it instantly with the comment ‘What a legend!’ Little did I know that almost a year later I would be making a short documentary charting Kaz’s journey to the exhibition of his OX4 project at Modern Art Oxford and Arts at the Old Fire Station.
Kate and I, both postgraduate Media students at the University of Sussex approached Kaz about the project. Our initial phone call to Kaz at the shop, however, was greeted with an odd response! ‘Is this Elsie?’ said Kaz. Aware that neither of us were called Elsie, he duly informed us that someone from The University of Sussex had already contacted him recently to propose a documentary project. We couldn’t believe the coincidence – let alone our bad luck! Of all the possible avenues of exploration and the myriad of potential subjects, Kaz gets two phone calls from different Sussex postgraduates within a matter of weeks! Selfishly, we knew we had to find this Elsie and somehow persuade her not to make her film.
Fortunately for us, however, having chosen a different project, Elsie kindly gave us the green light and with both the support of Modern Art Oxford, and Kaz’s approval we travelled up to Oxford from Brighton. Sharing a portion of chips we observed Kaz interacting with friends and customers who wandered in and out of the shop. Kaz’s bright personality lit up the faces of everyone that he encountered, and we felt then and there that we were about to embark on a special project with a unique individual.
The experience of making A WHITE WALL has been immensely rewarding. We couldn’t have possibly dreamt of a subject as welcoming, open and compassionate as Kaz, who throughout the whole process remained unwaveringly supportive and encouraging. We feel incredibly grateful that Kaz has allowed us to share his journey and for the opportunity to contribute towards a portrait of such a remarkable photographer. In close collaboration with Modern Art Oxford and Arts at the Old Fire Station, Kaz kindly provided an opportunity for us as two aspiring creative documentary filmmakers to hone our skills and techniques and explore the important role of the artist in bringing people together.
Given the important role of the media in documenting today’s many challenges, we feel that A WHITE WALL perhaps represents a metaphor for the blank slate offered to all filmmakers. The question we must ask ourselves is, how best should we fill it?” – Words by Matthew Gibson and Kate Drucquer.
Studying at The University of Sussex, Kate Drucquer studies for an MA in Media Practice for Development and Social Change and Matthew Gibson is doing an MA in Digital Documentary.