Moustache (شنب) is a short film that tells the story of Abu Shanab, a young man who is unable to grow a moustache. The film, which is set in old Kuwait, is a simple and beautifully told tale about not conforming to the norms of society. The filmmaker, Meqdad Al-Kout, has written and directed a number of short films that have been screened on film festivals across the world. Mashallah News spoke to him about his work.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your creative background.
I don’t have much to say about myself except that I graduated from Kuwait University with a B.A. in English literature, worked on many TV commercials after graduation and have been making short films ever since.
What inspired you to start making films?
My answer to that would be films! Watching films inspired me to make films and express my ideas through cinema.
Mustache, just like your previous film, Banana, tells the story of a young man unhappy with himself or his situation. Both are also films about friendship. Why this theme?
I guess these stories are inspired by my surroundings and social environment. The more I am involved in my own society, the more I feel the need to portray it in different aspects.
The film is inspired by the short story Winged Sofa by renowned Kuwaiti artist Thuraiya Al-Baqsami. How did it inspire you?
That story has a different storyline and characters than Mustache, because the film is only inspired by some aspects of Thuraya’s story. But the main thing is the lead character in Winged Sofa who also suffers from not having a moustache. I thought it would be interesting to play with that idea and fit it into something that I already had in mind for my own film.
Mustache is a film that makes you happy. Is there a reason you made it this way?
The story itself and the premise of it gave me a chance to express my own sense of comedy and satire. I think that humour and sarcasm would suits the character and the way he is being treated by his society.
Visually, the film is a real gem. Music, costumes and details like architecture and furniture are selected with care. Would you mind telling us a bit about this work?
If people find the film visually good, that is because I had a fantastic cast and crew who were dedicated to achieving this look. The cinematographer is an extremely talented person and we paid much attention to details including colours and clothes.
You set the film in old Kuwait, did this enable you to tell the story differently?
Of course. Back in the 70s and 80s, the moustache was a symbol of manhood. If a man did not have one, he was bound to be mocked and ridiculed by his society. Things have changed now so the story wouldn’t work in our modern times.
The missing moustache is an enormous issue for Bu Shanab, who is constantly surrounded by men with dark, beautiful moustaches. Even at the hospital with his newborn baby he can not get past it. Is the film about how it is to not fit in?
Obviously Bu Shanab is a man who is viewed by his society as a joke. He does not conform to the social standards of his surroundings because he is simply different. It is a universal theme but portrayed with different symbols depending on each society.
Omar Al-Enezi, the lead role in Mustache, did an amazing debut. How was the process of working together?
Omar is not a professional actor. He is a talented friend that I thought would be perfect for the job. However, his attitude and commitment to the project was completely professional in every way.
Finally, you said that you’re working on a few projects at the moment?
I am planning to send my latest film Sneeze to film festivals around the world, and I am constantly developing and working on projects these days.