Fragility: Ahang Bashi

When did you decide to pick up a camera and document your own life?

About four years ago I was struggling with a lot of panic attacks and anxiety and was at the edge of a deep depression when producer David Herdies contacted me and asked me if I have any new film ideas. I told him I wasn’t feeling well and he should contact somebody else. But after a couple of days of thinking I called him back and told him I want to film my own life. I was desperate to do something about my life and the thought that at least filming the anxiety made it feel less meaningless. David gave me and my roommate who also happens to be a photographer a camera and she started filming me in my everyday depressed life and me trying to get to the bottom with the reasons behind it all.

Were you ever concerned about how you were portraying yourself?

I wasn’t very concerned about portraying myself, I was very concerned about my mental state and just really needed to do something about it. Somehow filming made me feel better. It became a tool to approach it all. Of course, later in the editing room I sometimes doubted the whole thing, like who gives a shit about my life? But I had a really amazing team who encouraged me so much. They ensured me the material was really good, not too personal and relatable to others.

The film talks about a lot about your family and your upbringing. When did you start to discover just how much your background had an effect on you?

That happened in the therapy room. My therapist started asking me questions about my early years in life and I realized I had been through some really dramatic events, like migration and separation from my oldest sister and that made it quite clear that my panic attacks as an adult had a connection with my childhood experiences. I had never dared to even see that connection before.

What about this documentary makes it relatable to others?

So many things, either you can relate to being the one struggling with anxiety or you know someone who is. My film is also a lot about my family and their different ways of dealing with my depression. After screenings of the film so many people have contacted me telling me how much they relate to the subject, either its the experience of depression, or the psychological consequences of migration or having a family member or close friend struggling with mental illness.

You’ve made documentaries before – what do you believe are the important topics to discuss in a documentary? What themes do you focus on?

My main themes are migration, exile and family. These topics are very close to my heart; I’m almost obsessed with them. It’s so important to be very passionate about the themes you’re depicting, I mean, if you’re going to dedicate so many years of your life on a film you need be madly interested in that subject. That’s how I realized you can love working, that it’s not just a job, it’s actually something you enjoy doing and getting paid for doing something you love, wow that’s just amazing.

What’s next for you?

I’m in the very early stage of developing my first fiction film. That’s all I can tell you right now. But stay tuned, it’ll be something really cool.

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.