Starting out at Integrate UK before going on to graduate at Screen and Film School, Inaz Hussain is a multi-talented filmmaker. In July 2023, Hussain released his most personal short film yet, Remembrance – Pain and Hope, and I was fortunate enough to discuss with him his journey here.
Nathan Hardie: Whilst I was at the 4 Pillars event watching the hip-hop films Beat Street and Wild Style, I spotted your name in the introductory video credits. How did you get involved there?
Inaz Hussain: I met Del (Delroy Hibbert, managing director of Freestyle Bristol) at one of his youth sessions where I was covering for a friend. We began talking about my background in film, and trying to make it in the creative industries, and he provided me with some opportunities such as covering Love Saves the Day. There, I shot footage of local artists as well as interviews, which paved the way for the 4 Pillars event.
Image: Joe Bradshaw, @joebrashaw
NH: What was it like interacting with all of those talented artists?
IH: There was so much history I was learning just by being there in person. Hearing their stories and who they were influenced by; it felt like a great honour to listen in on experiences I never got a chance to learn about. It’s the same as my work on Windrush and St. Pauls Carnival back in July. Being involved in these different parts of history this year, and sharing that with the next generation, has been a great privilege.
NH: You mentioned hearing about the DJs’ influences; who has influenced your work?
IH: From a music perspective, Linkin Park has had the biggest impact throughout all of the different stages in my life. For film, I grew up watching animation more than live-action. Cartoons like Scooby-Doo and Tom & Jerry were unmatched in their graphic and audio design. This naturally led to Pokémon and other anime as well as comic book films like Logan and the Spider-Verse franchise – Spider-Man being one of my favourite characters ever. How I feel in the moment when watching these stories, or even playing them through video games, is what I look for when doing my own work.
NH: With so much focus on stories then, is this why you wanted to tell your own in Remembrance – Pain and Hope?
IH: I had wanted to do something for a while, and July 2023 was five years since my suicide attempt, so the timing made sense. Close friends knew some of what I had been through but this would be the first time I would share my story on a bigger scale. It’s rare to hear someone from a Bangladeshi/South Asian background discuss their mental health. Even after my article for the Bristol Post went live, people still tried to keep it under wraps out of discomfort. I wanted to tell my story in the hope that anyone else, regardless of their background, would feel comfortable telling their own and begin recovering from trauma.
NH: How was the piece received by your friends, especially by those in the photos of the documentary?
IH: The response I have been getting so far has been insane. The amount of people getting back to me saying stuff like “you’re a damn inspiration for what you’re doing” has been surreal. I don’t go around bragging about these things, I just wanted to see how I am creatively whilst trying to help others along the way. So many of my friends have shared their stories with me that the documentary has expanded into three short films.
NH: Oh wow! And how has that been structured?IH: So, part two is going to be more about the present regarding stories of my close friends and influences. When I realised that wasn’t going to be enough, I wrote part three, which will reflect on my journey and what I’ve learnt since Remembrance – Pain and Hope. One of my mates actually compared it to the Spider-Verse growing into a trilogy!
NH: Well, hopefully we don’t have to wait a year for the next entry.
IH: Definitely not, part two has already been shot so I just need to edit it.
NH: Fantastic, I look forward to watching this next entry soon. Before then, what is the message you want people to take from part one of your documentary?
IH: Choose your own way. Don’t follow me or anyone else. It’s your own life, and you have to choose what you want to do, in whichever way you want to do it. As long as you know this is who you are and who you want to be, go for it. We’ve all got our own stories, so live yours and tell it if you want to.
Image: Elliott Moore, @elliotjmd
Inaz Hussain is a member of the Freestyle Bristol team and a photographer & filmmaker. You can find more of his work and contact him via his website, Instagram & YouTube. Nathan Hardie is also a member of our team and is developing a career as a film critic and scriptwriter. Find out more about Nathan and the projects he’s been working on here.
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this feature or would like to find out more you can contact one of the organisations listed here. Locally Off The Record also provides advice & services for young people affected by mental health issues.