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Why did this short visual by indie director Eslam Hozayen receive so much backlash

In the independent film world, it’s easy to be a daredevil because you don’t have much to worry about, no sponsors, no enforced-rating, and most of the times a very low budget. A Minnesota filmmaker who goes by the name “director. E” knows that fact and takes advantage of it. Eslam Hozayen is his full name and he’s known to have been worthy of film festivals’ attention especially since the beginning of this year.

One of his recent projects titled “my skin is black” has awarded him 2 premiers at Rome Independent Prisma Awards Festival and Dmoff-Festival and one critics’ choice award at Uruvatti Film Festival.

The visual is short and straight to the point, something the director is not known for since he always seems to hide messages in his visuals and short films. The visual shows 3 African-American models, two females and one male in different scenarios as a normal day in their lives pass by, the message is short and sweet; it sheds light on offensive questions people of African heritage encounter almost all the time and explains to the viewer(through a voice over) how to avoid being someone who asks those offensive questions, especially when you don’t mean to.

Great stuff, right? Well yes, but the project’s obvious message is not the reason it has gotten a lot of attention. As mentioned earlier, Hozayen is known to hide a message or two in plain sight in almost all of his work. Online Viewers seemed to catch one this time around, a Caucasian shirtless man with a white pillow case over his head serving milk to the three African-American models was shown in maybe two or three of the scenarios displayed throughout the visual, the shots were quick and even almost out of frame, but still if you focus just a little, you can see them.

No explanation for this particular “concept” seemed to be in the project’s synopsis and the director didn’t care to comment on it. But that didn’t stop the viewers from interacting over it, “is this supposed to be reversed slavery?”

Wrote one viewer, “wow I have nothing to say here because if this was the other way around the festival wouldn’t have even included it” commented another. Many more caught on to those same shots wondering what is this all supposed to mean. There was one comment that seems to have caught the director’s eyes though “Misleading concepts like this is why we should leave black art to black artists” to which Hozayen replied “I am black”.

The project is now two months old and still seems to be getting picked up by more festivals, best bet is that in the art world it’s best to find controversy and present it.