Official Selection 2013
The Beard is a dramatic film detailing a day in the life of an elderly Sikh who has been victimized as a result of his race, and how he chooses to deal with his given circumstances in the aftermath of the event.
Director: Yaz Rabadi
Producer: Elena Pilar Nanes, Yaz Rabadi
Writer: Yaz Rabadi
Key cast and other credits:
The Man – Sam Moses
Director of Photography – Barry Cheong
The story behind The Beard came to be primarily through the unfair discrimination the Sikh community faced following 9/11. The turban and beard were immediately tied to racism, regardless of the fact that Sikh’s had absolutely nothing to do with the terrorist attacks. The more and more I read about the various attacks on innocent Sikh’s, the more I began to sympathize greatly with them. Here was a religion that had values of honor and purity… Yet was being so wrongly hated for actions they had no part of. Being a man with a beard and of middle-eastern appearance, I was no stranger to discrimination, and I connected very strongly to the unjust discrimination the Sikh’s were, and still are facing. I suppose making The Beard was a response of sorts to what I was feeling.
I knew the message I wanted to convey from the very beginning. That of perseverance. Of not giving up. Of not giving in. Of being strong and standing ground in the face of hate and discrimination. The story too, came effortlessly to me, as did the manner in which I wanted to convey it. It’s that old adage that actions speak louder than words, and I didn’t think there was need for words in this film. I felt that the action would do the speaking, and as such, I wanted audiences to be with our main character throughout the film, never leaving his side.
With these parameters in place, it became clear that a documentary-driven aesthetic with a voyeuristic feel would be best in putting this film on screen. The film didn’t need to be overdrawn, its strength would rest in its raw truth – and that truth would be on display in a moment… It would be authentic and it would be real.
The budget was tight, and as a result we were forced to work with a small crew and shoot over the course of one night. I can’t thank the crew enough for their amazing work, ensuring my vision was achieved regardless of our constraints. Sam Moses, who played the role of The Man to perfection, was such a pleasure to work with. His face alone conveyed so much of the character that no instruction was really needed… It was quite possibly the most sublime directing experience I have ever had with an actor. In retrospect I am thankful for the hectic and raw nature of the shoot. I think that rawness translated on to the screen, and that equates to honesty and authenticity.
More than anything else The Beard was made as a statement against conformity. I wanted to show people that no matter what it is that brands them as being ‘different’, they have a right to their beliefs, and they should stand up for them. The Beard will always be a labor of love for me. A deviation in many ways from my prior work, I feel that it is no doubt my most personal.
Moving to Canada from Mumbai, India at the young age of four, Yaz Rabadi always had a passion for art. While his passion often drifted between different artistic mediums, Yaz’s deep love, fascination and appreciation for cinema was a constant through his growth. Yaz held on to his fascination for visual storytelling and in 2007 graduated from Ryerson University’s Film Studies Program. Shortly thereafter Yaz was selected to participate in The Academy of Canada Cinema and Television’s National Apprentice Training Program, where he was afforded opportunities to work alongside filmmakers such as John Greyson and Atom Egoyan on their respective feature film projects. Since then Yaz has gone on to produce and direct numerous short films including X+Y, Inside, The Beard and Lazy Sunday. His short films have been screened around the world and been nominated for several awards. He is also working ahead steadily on his next short film Streamers and a feature film currently titled Hopscotch.