Mohannad Ghawanmeh wears at least two hats when it comes to “Triumph67” the new Minnesota-made picture getting it’s world premier tonight at MSPIFF.
He is both the producer and lead actor.
“Producing is a much more organizational, cerebral, and socia activity,” he told me the other day. “And to me acting is a much more intensely psychological experience.”
“The film tells the story of two Palestinian-American brothers,” he continued, “Whose lives encounter an event that hurls a nmber of consequential events as well as delivers them to states of being they wouldn’t have predicted.”
Ghawanmeh says at its roots its also an examination of the state of the Palestinian people at this point in history.
“But only in passing really,” he adds.
What is remarkable is the film was shot almost entirely in Minnesota.
“Lets not forget that Minnesota, and the Twin Cities in particular is home to a great many people from all over the globe, and I think there is a global consciousness that might surprise some people, given its distance from the coasts.”
The genesis of the project is quite remarkable given it’s small beginning.
“The film began in the mind of director Dan Tanz who had conceived of a rather artsy, avant-gard film involving an Arab character riding a motorbike through the Midwestern plains, particularly in the Driftless Area by the Mississippi River.”
That image expanded after Tanz invited others to take part including Ghawanmeh to help develop the idea and ultimately a script. He jokes that’s when he learned he was going to have to do more than scowl and snee, he was going to have to utter lines.
“I think it worked out for all of us,” he laughs. “I still mope,’ he says almost with relief.
The crew also used a Kickstarter website to help fund the project. It raised $12,000 for the project which Ghamanweh says came in very handy during post production. He believes the crew’s enthusiasm for the project infected supporters and that helped raise the money.
“I think that our film involves people who have proven themselves on the local film scene,” he said. “And I think that a lot of people sensed that we were really going for something, that this was an ambitious project.”
A certain amount has been made of the fact that Tanz is Jewish and Ghamanweh is Palestinian, but he plays it down a little.
“We think that it might call attention to the film, and of course attention is something that we seek, because there’s so many films in the marketplace” he said. “But it’s an entirely organic, and authentic collaboration. Dan and I share similar perspectives along lines political and socio-economic and the like, and share our view of the trauma that has befallen the Palestinian people in both the 20th and 21st centuries.”
Tonight’s screening of “Triumph67” is sold out, but there are still tickets available for the second screening on Tuesday afternoon.
As to the future, the crew hopes to get the film out on the festival circuit and then take it from there.
You can see the trailer here.