Samir Mehanović, a Screen Academy Scotland MA graduate (2004), has been nominated for a BAFTA for the short film Mouth of Hell which he directed and co-wrote with Bart Gavigan. Screen Academy Scotland is a collaboration between Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh Napier University, dedicated to fostering the future of film makers.
The short film is set in an open cast mine in Jharia, India where people survive by picking coal in the sizzling dirt. This is the home of Anant, an 8-year-old boy who scrapes a living picking coal and selling it at the local markets to try and feed himself and his sick mother. One day, a chance encounter changes Anant's life forever.
Samir made the film with Scottish producer Michael Wilson to shine a light on a humanitarian and ecological disaster. The fires here have raged for 100 years.
“Jharia is like hell on earth, literally – the smell, the smoke, the heat, the conditions,” said Samir, “No human should have to live there, work there, grow up there or exist there. Yet thousands do.”
“When I arrived at the location, I found people dying on a daily basis from respiratory problems and living in houses precariously built on unstable ground where fires burn under the earth,” he said, “It is hard to explain how emotionally affected I was, but I was spurred on to overcome the difficulties and dangers of filming there.”
Mouth of Hell has received the Grand Prix Award at the 22nd International Short Film Festival in Drama, Greece 2016. Samir has won awards for his previous films as well; The Fog of Srebrenica won a Special Jury Award for Documentary at IDFA and The Way We Played won a BAFTA Scotland award.