Be on the lookout for Hollywood East’s latest up-and-coming artiste! Ahmed Khawaja, a 2010 graduate of Boston University’s Film & Television department, is embarking on his first full-length feature film, Ten Nights Bliss, a personal story of homelessness in which he plays himself. Khawaja, originally from Abu Dhabi, part of the United Arab Emirates, says the production is a self-record, “mostly a malicious attempt at getting back at my ex-girlfriend.”
Most of Khawaja’s childhood was spent devoid of a father figure; his own father was “absent a lot, very detached,” Khawaja says. “That’s a lot of what this movie is about, feeling detached from your own family, yet still doing everything to can to try to make it work.” Thus, when asked how his Boston University education helped his career as a director, Khawaja remarked that the staff of the Film & Television department provided him with many mentors.
In particular, Ray Carney, a professor of Film and American Studies at BU, served a father figure and role model. ”He was a funny guy and he really cared about his students.” Associate Professor John Kelly was also supportive to Khawaja as a student and aspiring director.
Boston University was also where Khawaja met and became close to the co-writer of Ten Nights Bliss, Andre Puca. Puca was a graduate student at BU and a teacher’s assistant in one of Khawaja’s courses within the College of Communication. The two began talking about films more when Puca, who is ten years older, would came to visit Khawaja at the Harvard Film Archive, where he works as an usher. The two found that they had a lot in common, and Puca became an integral part of the writing and producing of Ten Nights Bliss. For Khawaja, it was “really reassuring to have an elder brother kind of figure to look over the whole thing.”
Looking back on the process of filming over the past year, Khawaja says the best part of producing his first film was “the ability to make people have a good time that only comes about when you’re directing a film.”
Ten Nights Bliss, which Khawaja admits draws inspiration from the classic films of Jim Jarmusch, Paul Mazursky, and Charlie Chaplin, is expected to be complete by November 2010. According to Khawaja, the ultimate destination for his masterpiece is the prestigous Cannes Film Festival: “Our big thing is Cannes.” Working with the Directors Fortnight, a division of the Cannes Film Festival that debuts first films by first filmmakers, Khawaja hopes to screen the film in May 2011.
If you want to stay up to date on the filming and release of Ten Nights Bliss and any future Khawaja Films productions, contact the director at [email protected]