Award-winning AOB Orlando von Einsiedel has diversified from documentary-making and turned his hand to film-making for the first time. Orlando, who won the best documentary short Oscar in 2016 for The White Helmets and was executive producer on last year’s winner Learning to Skateboard in Warzone (if you’re a girl) via Grain Media production company, has revealed details of his latest project, Into Dust, which continues the geopolitical theme of much of Grain Media’s work. Brading's alumnus Franklin Dow was Director of Photography on the film, making it a truly Alleyn's collaboration!
The 40-minute short tells the real-life story of a Pakistani activist. Perween Rahman was murdered in 2013 after discovering that vast quantities of Karachi’s public water supply was being illegally stolen by the local mafia and sold to the city’s richer inhabitants, leaving poorer communities without. Her elder sister Aquila Ismail continues the fight for justice in Karachi in her sister’s name to this day. Rahman’s story had already been the subject of an excellent documentary by Pakistani filmmaker Mahera Omar, so Orlando decided to work with scriptwriter Charlotte Wolf, to shine a light on the issue once more through a different lense.
In common with many of his other works, Into Dust aims to highlight the larger issues of climate change and rising populations and, whilst focusing on one woman’s remarkable story, also aims to spark a conversation about the growing global water crisis - the UN predicts that over 5 billion people could be affected by water scarcity in just 10 years.
"When we first learned about this story, we were really shocked at how little coverage there had been about this extraordinary woman and her work. What it also really spoke of was how, when water starts to run out and become scarce, it doesn’t just mean the taps are going dry. It actually means the potential breakdown of law and order, the collapse of governments and the increase of corruption."
Into Dust was shot partially in Karachi before the pandemic, but then completed in north west India due to safety concerns relating to the subject matter in Pakistan. “Unlike a documentary, where you can sort of nip in and run away again, with a drama you’re in locations for significant amount of time and you have to plan to in those places, so you’re more vulnerable,”
Orlando says making his first narrative film was terrifying but wonderful:
"I loved it. We had a brilliant, brilliant crew. Almost all the heads of production were from India and I felt very supported," he says. "As somebody going into this for the first time, it was a fantastic experience."
Orlando will be hosting a panel discussion on the issue at SXSW with Ismail Soumya Balasubramanya of the International Water Management Institute, and Poul Due Jensen of the Danish Grundfos Foundation, which also funded Into Dust.
You can read an in-depth feature interview with Orlando von Einsiedel in the Edward Alleyn Club Magazine 2016 here