Fanclub is a semi-regular recommendation series where I talk to Normal People about the Things They Like.
Yasmina Tawil (she/her) - Brooklyn, NY
I know Yasmina because we shared an apartment at Silent Barn together.
JMC: What have you been listening to lately?
YT: I’ve been in the mood for things that are dark, loud and heavy lately. The exact genre changes day to day, but Bob Vylan, Knocked Loose, Turnstile, PUP, Idles and, for some reason, Sick Puppies have been in heavy rotation. On the odd days I haven't been in the mood for that sound, it's been twen's album "One Stop Shop" or Rubblebucket's album "Earth Worship" basically on repeat.
JMC: Can you please explain Turnstile to me? What makes them special? I feel like I’m missing it.
YT: Oh God. I can’t wait to be called a poser.
JMC: No, I don’t think you’re a poser! I just cannot tell a good punk band from a bad punk band, so when there is a punk band people really like I can’t tell why.
YT: Something about Turnstile’s music just gets my blood boiling. It makes me want to jump and dance. I could not tell you the first thing, musically, why that is. I was, unfortunately, a late adopter to the band after years of people telling me I’d love them, but their current sound and audience has become very *ahem* bro-y. But it still hits for me so fuck it! I love it! I wish I had listened sooner.
JMC: When is the first time someone called you a poser?
YT: I don’t think anyone has ever called me a poser to my face, but it’s a constant fear I have. I have definitely been teased about my taste in music before though.
JMC: If nobody has said it to your face why is it a fear? Wouldn’t it be easy to conclude it isn’t a thing people think about you?
YT: Because I think people do think it about me even if they don’t use the word! Ever since I got into music in a real way I was always kind of behind or too late to something. I got into Green Day in the American Idiot era and I had fellow middle schoolers telling me it was lame. I don’t know classic rock at all, or classic movies.
JMC: What do you do all day for money?
YT: Well, I just quit my full time job, so right now I'm the Director of Film Programming at the Arab Film and Media Institute, and I will be pouring beer at Banter during the World Cup.
JMC: What does being the Director of Film Programming entail? Are you the one who has the watch all the movies that are submitted?
YT: Yeah more or less! I handle everything regarding programming at AFMI. I do have a programming committee for the film festival that helps me get through everything, but I make the final curatorial decisions and arrange the licensing and delivery of the films. Throughout the rest of the year I do it all more or less by myself.
JMC: This is going to sound like a dumb question, but how do you decide what movies are good and make it into the festival?
YT: It’s not a dumb question! It is a complex answer though.
The first level is basic production value. It doesn’t have to be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, but I tend not to program things that have notable image or sound issues or really bad acting and writing. In certain situations good stories can win out over production value, but there is still a sort of base level the films should reach.
After that I start to explore different themes I’d like to see in the festival. This year, I wanted to put together something more diverse in terms of subject & genre. I leaning more towards queer films, comedies, and genre films. Ultimately, some of this is determined by what is created, available or submitted that year, but I do take note of that. I then also consider diversity in things such as gender, countries and such, and try to create a lineup that is rich and diverse in that regard as well.
Then to a certain degree I have to take into consideration what our audience wants to see. I don’t compromise on my vision or quality but things that have a lot of buzz, awards, or Oscar submissions may be more likely to be part of the lineup.
JMC: What percentage of the movies you watched in the last year do you think were related to this festival in some way?
YT: At least 50%.