Movie director focuses on mental illness

Zjan Shirinian A DIRECTOR is tackling the stigma attached to mental illnesses by drawing on his own experience of living with manic depression. Azeem Khan s 17-minute drama Open Secrets deals with the stigma and shame felt by an Asian family. Azeem, 44, of Ilford, sa

Zjan Shirinian

A DIRECTOR is tackling the stigma attached to mental illnesses by drawing on his own experience of living with manic depression.

Azeem Khan's 17-minute drama Open Secrets deals with the "stigma and shame" felt by an Asian family.

Azeem, 44, of Ilford, said: "It' something I have encountered. An uncle visited us from abroad and I was told to behave in a 'normal' way and pretend that I wasn't ill."


You may also want to watch:


The drama has proved a huge hit, beating 350 entries to scoop the best film gong at last year's Buffalo San Black and Asian Film Festival.

And earlier this month, 540 people saw Open Secrets at Cineworld, Clements Road, Ilford, in three sell-out viewings.

Most Read

The director, right, who was born in Pakistan and came to England aged five, started his career making commercials and documentaries for the BBC and ITV.

Open Secrets stars 80-year-old Indian actor Saeed Jaffrey (Gandhi, Coronation Street, A Passage to India) who plays Ravi.

Azeem, who studied at Loxford School of Science and Technology, Loxford Lane, Ilford, first met Jaffrey at Pinewood Studios in 2006.

"He's open to working with new directors and he loved the script," said Azeem.

"It was very exciting working with such a big-time actor. He was flexible to my direction."

Ravi discovers his nephew's manic depression is being hidden by his family, and helps them to accept the illness.

Azeem said: "There's been a fantastic reaction. The film has generated a lot of debate."

The director now plans a gritty feature-length drama about mental illness, called Hidden Colours.

The film - for which he is seeking �150,000 from a business to help fund - will centre around a Muslim youngster with schizophrenia and his family's reaction to the condition.

Visit www.azkofilms.com to find out more about Azeem and to offer funding.

To watch Open Secrets, which was partly shot at Goodmayes Hospital, Barley Lane, visit www.cultureunplugged.com

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter