“Yes, I am poor, I am vermin, a bug, I am at the bottom of the scale. But I still exist.” – Rawi Hage
A film by Michelle Latimer
Toronto International Film Festival 2014
Details on dates, venues and times for TIFF public, and press + industry screenings, to follow.
Inspired by Rawi Hage’s Award-Winning novel, Cockroach
A visceral portrayal of an Iranian man’s struggle to fit into Western culture, The Underground is a new short film by critically acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Michelle Latimer, which is set to have its World Premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
Araz, an Iranian refugee in Canada, experiences North American life by imagining himself as a cockroach. Having fought to escape the warzone he once called home, and destined for a fresh start, Araz arrives in Canada to find that North American life is not what he had dreamed of. In a struggle to overcome poverty and isolation, he turns inward in hopes of experiencing the life that eludes him.
Deeply disturbed by how ethnic assimilation remains at the root of so many humanitarian disasters, Writer/Director Michelle Latimer was fascinated by the prevalence of the cockroach as a symbol in genocidal propaganda, spanning multiple time periods, geographic regions and cultures.
“This story illuminates how the persistent notion of a human underclass impacts our humanity”, says Latimer. “Informed by my Indigenous heritage and inspired by Rawi Hage’s courageous novel, I wanted to challenge and address this idea, while further exploring the issues of identity, loss of language, and assimilation.”
The Underground was Produced by Tara Woodbury and Kerry Swanson, and Executive Produced by Paula Devonshire and Danis Goulet with support from the National Screen Institute’s Drama Prize Program.
About Michelle Latimer
Michelle Latimer is an actor, filmmaker and curator. Her award-winning documentary ALIAS premiered at the 2013 Hot Docs Film Festival before screening internationally. Her animated short, Choke (2010) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, received a Sundance Special Jury Honorable Mention in International Short Filmmaking, was named by Toronto International Film Festival among Canada’s Top Ten of 2012 and nominated for a Genie Award. Michelle is currently starring in the acclaimed television series, Blackstone and appears as an industry judge on CBC’s Short Film Face Off. Michelle is currently developing her first dramatic feature in collaboration with Sienna Films and the National Film Board of Canada.