Monday, April 11, 2011
Running a student film festival affords me the chance to meet young filmmakers and then follow their careers. I screened two of Najor's student films, "Killing Time" (2001) and "The Cutting Room Floor" (2002) at my student shocase "Film School Confidential." Now he has directed, shot, and produced the music video for Timz's latest release "Refugee." The black and white music video examines the plight of Iraqi refugees who have fled their homeland in response to the violence and who have found themselves here in America trying to rebuild their lives.
Najor was born in Dearborn, Michigan but grew up in San Diego. He went to SDSU where he received both an undergraduate and graduate degree from the film department. Timz is a hip hop music artist whose Chaldean parents had fled Iraq back in the 1970s to escape persecution. Growing up in the U.S. the rapper was influenced by American urban and Iraqi/Middle Eastern music. Timz attended USD and had his 2006 album "Open for Business" nominated for Best Hip Hop Album at the San Diego Music Awards.
Najor has made several music videos with Timz. Najor told me, "Timz approached me to do this video for his new song entitled 'Refugee.' I was reluctant at first because I just wasn't sure how to tackle this specific song. I felt very moved by his lyrics but couldn't really grasp the best way to translate the song to a visual piece. It dawned on me that there are a lot of Iraqi refugees here in San Diego. I decided to incorporate as many of the Iraqi refugees as I could into the video. Some were reluctant to be photographed at first but when we explained it was to help explain the plight of refugees here in America they were very supportive and we thank them for helping us with this music video."
The video is an evocative black and white work that puts a very real face on the refugee statistic we hear about. Najor dedicates the video to the millions of Iraqis who have left their homeland and to the tens of thousands trying to rebuild their lives in the United States. He says, "We really do hope this helps to shine a little light into a subject matter that has been greatly ignored here in America. Many of these people are very educated and accomplished in their own right and unfortunately due to the war in Iraq, they’ve had to leave their homes and jobs and are struggling to support their families in America. Hopefully this might create some understanding and compassion in what has been a very difficult situation for everyone involved."
Here's the video. If you like it, pass it on. The MP3 of the song becomes available today on iTunes.