Mouhssine Ennaimi is a director-producer based in Istanbul. He is the co-founder of the award-winning documentary series Off the Grid. He started his career as a correspondent for French networks, working mainly out of South Asia and the Arab world. He lived in Colombo, Mumbai, Jerusalem and Doha. Mouhssine Ennaimi was also Field Producer and has spent more than a decade in hostile environments and war zones. He is the author of ‘Slumboy’, a portrait of a Slumdog Millionaire type of hero living in Mumbai, and ‘The Strength to Say No’, a character-driven book about forced child-marriages in India. Off The Grid is aired on TRTWorld
How would you compare the tragedies you’ve witnessed for over a decade in hostile environments and war zones to the experience of documenting this tragedy striking families due to missing babies?
You don’t get use to tragedies and you never get used to hearing dramatic stories. All stories are different and every pain is unique. Therefore you can’t really compare them. In Missing Babies what strikes me most is these families are deprived from truth about he fate of their own child. A situation totally unacceptable and definitively unfair. No matter what happened, they deserve truth and justice. Their quest is truly legitimate and their voice has to be louder. Especially when their country not cooperative. Most of the parents will accepted the truth. But instead they feel cheated and ignored and they are givn a financial compensation when they are asking about what really happened to their babies.
How did you get to know about this dramatic subject?
I read the EU Human Right report condemning the state of Serbia. When I start digging and start pre-interviewing these mothers I realised this is a terrible story that has to be told. The more you understand the more the situation is suspicious, and dramatic. The very same pattern. The very same obstructions. They all share the same story. However there are some cases that can be explained with irrefutable and credible evidence. The documentary explains that too.To be fair not all cases are suspicious. And the documentary explains how some cases can be explained as there are credible evidence.That’s makes this situation even more award, why the light is not shed once for good so these parents can heal and deal with the truth.
Would you paraphrase Hitchcok’s line you wrote as your statement? (“In feature films the director is God; in documentary films God is the director”)
There is a gap between the original idea and the final cut. Even with the best research and the best preparation there are always unexpected events and situations. Interestingly those unexpected variables and factors also happen after the filming is done. That’s why it also affects the final cut. Sometimes we have bad surprises. Sometimes good surprises. Control freaks should stay away from documentaries.
Do you believe that bringing up the subject in a documentary film could help these mothers in any way to be widely heard? And hopefully get and answer to their pleas.
The genesis and the ultimate goal of this film is to give a louder voice to these women. They have suffered a tragic loss and they never got a chance to see the baby they just gave birth to. No one can accept this. Their story is not local anymore. Their story is now international. Their plight and their quest for truth is known to anyone who watch the documentary. That’s why festivals are important as they raise awareness on these sobering issues.