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Fatima’s Letter

Alia Syed

UK, 1992
21 minutes, B&W, Optical, 1:1.33
Original format: 16mm film
Available formats: 16mm

‘When we define ourselves, when I define myself, the place in which I am like you and the place in which I am not like you, I’m not excluding you from joining – I’m broadening the joining.’ – Audrey Lorde.
The film is shot almost entirely at Whitechapel Underground Station in East London. A woman remembers her past by faces she sees while travelling on the Underground. She begins to believe that these people, like her, have all taken part in the same event which took place in the family home in Pakistan. The story takes the form of a letter to her friend Fatima.
A personal documentary around journeys, memories and watching, watching while journeying and remembering while watching – travelling through memories, places and events and documenting them into consciousness.
‘For a while she believed that God had only created around about a hundred people and then just placed them in different places and different disguises in different parts of the world, so much did some people remind her of others she had left at home but she never spoke to them just in case it wasn’t true.’
The story is spoken in Urdu and although there are English subtitles, they do not always appear in conjunction with what is spoken. The counterpoint between the two languages being the dynamic of the film. – A.S.