The Invaders is a seven-minute bird pie, beneath the crust a little monster is ready to take flight and peck the maid’s nose – I’ll leave this open to interpretation (remember America is gendered as female, the unleashed bird is a metaphor of Trumpy sentiment).
Like a pie, the short film is full of the unknown – would we notice the Islamophobia? Cue ripped hijab anticipation, fail. Would it be a silent manifestation that the viewer only notices towards the end? Is it physical? The camera movement is the first deviator, following the film’s lead Jayla at a close range the viewer begins to feel they are the Islamophobic gaze pursuing her. The horror motif of dark shots and the intrusion of gas from beneath the door is the next deviation – could it be possible that the director is a Harry Potter fan and islamophobia has manifested into a dementor? That would be bad news since HP lives in England.
Past the wondering, the film is full of suggestion – the slouching position of the girl in the window suggests she’s seen it all before, she enjoys it. The operative with an American flag on her cap (suggestive!) and slow, sympathetic eye contact towards the house is the nice guy reluctantly carrying out Trumps’ wish list. It’s these nuggets of emotion that reveal so much about the characters and society.
The short film has garnered nearly 400 followers on the crowdfunding page Seed&Spark, just one hundred away from winning free distribution of the film and payment of film festival applications. This is an important project for the wider public, that extends beyond the Muslim community, in raising awareness of where “the spread and normalisaton of Islamophobia might lead.”
We spoke to producer Caroline Radigan and Writer/Director Mateo Márquez about the project:
Why the subject of Islamophobia?
Islamophobia is something that has been a part of the lives of many Americans since 9/11. While I am not a survivor of the hateful rhetoric or physical persecution of Islamophobia, I have been a passive bystander to its affects. This previous national election brought out an overwhelming amount of excess condemnation & radical ‘solutions’ to the radicalized Islamic ‘threat’. I felt that I could no longer be a passive bystander and wanted to actively use the medium of film to point the lens on our social conscious. The subject matter lends itself to deep analysis on how people in societies that consider themselves ‘free’ can drastically alter their principles in the face of fear of the unknown.
What truths is your film based around and do you think we will come to a point where the events in the film will be close to reality?
The truths hidden in this film are derived from the history of the world. We have seen nations such as fascist Germany face the holocaust and America face Japanese internment camps in the 1940’s. It felt extremely plausible that because our government encourages prejudice in its actions or lack thereof, we as a nation could become extreme. I do not believe that the events in the film will become a reality, however, if we stay silent that probability could unfortunately become a reality. Overall I am hopeful in America’s future.
What do you hope to achieve from The Invaders?
I hope that when people see the film it continues to seek justice for those of us who feel the true threat of hate in whatever form it may be. I believe the film can be an exercise in self reflection on the nature of society. Islam is not the enemy; many Muslims walk peaceful lives.
Do you think you will work on a long piece?
I would not want to work on this as a long piece. I believe all that needs to be said about the absurdity of hunting people because of their faith is displayed in the film. This film is meant to be more of a warning of what our society could be if we do not resist. The impactful shots of Jayla, our main character, can encapsulate the dread and horror of Islamaphobia. I believe the events that would lead to the infestation program are already present in our current politics. I hope we can learn to help heal one another. The message is quick and straight to the point.