London City Film Festival for independent filmmakers was held earlier this month, the festival is held annually and it’s known to present the work of independent filmmakers across the globe. This year the festival presented the work of an Egyptian film director who wrote and directed a shortfilm titled “In a parallel universe” where he seemingly has created a world where segregation still exists, but this time it’s the other way around. The director, Eslam Hozayen is a multi-award-winning film screenwriter and director, his work mainly focuses on the power of the human brain and its dark side.
The festival virtual viewers were caught off guard by the “disturbing” images played throughout the short film. The plot follows a teenage black male on his way to school on what seems to be a morning like any other, we then see cut-backs to a TV interview where details of the plot start to reveal, the scenario starts to jump back and forth as the teenage boy starts to wave around to his neighbors as he walks through different streets; this is where things get disturbing, the neighbors are shown as very unwelcoming of anyone who’s not of an African-American descendent (hence, “In a parallel universe”).
Some of the images even go as far as showing “creatures” in all white on leeches. “Is that supposed to be white people?” asked one commentator “I just don’t see a world where this helps anyone” they continued. Hozayen left a lengthy comment during the live event after many viewers showed disapproval, “I don’t like having to explain my work, but just to be clear I only aim to educate not offend, the concept is meant to make you realize how serious things were back then, like walk in my shoes kind of thing, if it hurts you to see those images then imagine a reality where things were 10 times worse and it wasn’t art it was real life, I purposely reversed the situation so you can see and feel for yourself; I’m sorry if you’re hurt but that was the point, to get you to feel something” he stated.
Hozayen is known to present provoking projects but nothing that has gotten this much attention before. “Maybe racial issues should be off limits” wrote another viewer. Not everyone disapproved though, a few other viewers seemed to admire Hozayen’s vision, “art is supposed to provoke, I don’t understand the hate” wrote a viewer who was in support of the concept, “This is different and I love it, we need more work like this” commented another. It is unclear if the festival will continue to screen Hozayen’s piece but the festival’s directors haven’t made any comments as of yet.