Mindanaoan Breech Asher Harani Wins At The International Emmys For His Marawi-Focused Short Film
Titled "Next to Me," the minute-long film spoke volumes about the need for peace and inclusivity in the Philippines and the world at large
"Still can't get over how amazing this experience is," posted 28-year-old Breech Asher Harani, a budding graphics artist, photographer, and director whose short film Next to Me was awarded top honors in its category at the 2019 International Emmys held in New York City.
The post showed a series of photos cementing the experience he's sure to cherish for a lifetime, the first of which is an image of a large black, glossy plaque that reads "2019 JCS International Young Creatives Award Presented to Breech Asher Harani for 'Next to Me.'"
Breech, a proud Mindanaoan, focused his creative efforts on telling a story that hit close to home.
His short film was based on true events that transpired in the aftermath of the 2017 Marawi siege and condenses the experiences of many of the city's displaced Muslim youth.
In just one minute, Next to Me shows the consequences of war on the young by zeroing in on a young Muslim girl stepping inside a new classroom for the very first time. There is a chalkboard, chairs, desks and learning materials taped to the walls, making the environment more or less familiar—only, this is a non-Muslim school and her classmates whisper under their breath about the new girl.
The word "terrorist" is thrown out, and a bag is placed on an empty chair to protect the space from intrusion by the newcomer. Someone mutters under their breath about their mother warning them about her dangerous nature, while another wonders why she covers her head. Maybe she's hiding a gun, they say.
All stare and laugh rudely as the teenager stands awkwardly and sadly in the middle of the room, not knowing what to do next.
Until a classmate, a single soul, gets up from her seat and offers the spot next to her. It's a vacant seat and she can take it, she says.
The girls exchange timid smiles and thankfully, it looks likes this Marawi survivor has made a friend in the midst of the unrest and anguish she escaped.
Catching the eye of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the film fit the short film category's theme of "Standing for Peace" to a tee.
The needs for peace, acceptance, understanding, and inclusivity, after all, transcend borders and are not unique to the Filipino Muslim narrative; Breech succeeded at capturing the essence of these themes, teaching a universal lesson that anyone from any corner of the globe would do well remembering.
When asked about his big win, Breech revealed that it was important for him to be able to help educate young Filipinos about tolerance, especially when they live in a world that tries so hard to divide society based on differences in religion and tradition.
More so, he was intent on producing brief, but relevant, films like this that media-savvy youth can appreciate; in a time when young people and online media are inseparable, he wishes to be a voice of meaningfulness in the midst of a mishmash of Internet content.
In the end, Breech was ecstatic about being given a larger platform to hone his craft and an opportunity to reach a wider audience.
The International Emmy Awards, despite its focus on television programs, has opened a special category to honor the winners of the JCS International Young Creatives competition whose goal is to foster young talents from all over the world and encourage conversations about peace.
Breech was one of the three winners in the competition's 2019 edition.
Interested filmmakers may submit their entries beginning June 2020 for the competition's next run.
Photos from @breechharani