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Drugs, Sex and Higher Love with Slamdance Winner Hasan Oswald

Today on the show we have Slamdance Grand Jury winning filmmaker Hasan Oswald. Hasan’s story is pretty inspiring. He did exactly what I preach all the time, he picked up a camera and began to tell his story. He made his first short film that was later tweeted by Stephen Fry, and the National Geographic came calling to work on their film Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS. 

He has since covered the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, drug trafficking, and homelessness in Philadelphia. He quickly established a unique ability to capture the human experience through “cinema verité.”  His unfettered access to and intimacy with his characters creates a seamless veneer between the filmmaker and subject.

After getting much need experience in the field he decided it was time to tell larger stories. His first outing as a feature film director, Higher Love, won him the top award at the Slamdance Film Festival. To finance his film he pulled a page out of Robert Rodriguez’s playbook and sold his blood plasma to finance his film.

Daryl Gant is a Camden native, father of eight, and a printing press operator. He was raised by a single mother and strives to be a better father than his own, who abandoned him at birth.

His girlfriend, Nani, is the love of his life but struggles to cope with a crippling crack and heroin addiction, and the nefarious lifestyle to support it. More troubling is that Nani is pregnant with their new baby boy, Darnez. It becomes Daryl’s new-found purpose to forge a better future for both of them.

Nani is also a Camden native, whose mother died with a needle in her arm. Now she struggles with the responsibilities of motherhood in the face of her own addiction. Darnez was born healthy but needs particular care growing up in an environment rife with safety and well-being concerns. Their friend, Iman, was once a drug dealing kingpin in Camden in the 1990s.

He was also a father and a mechanical engineer until he caught a dealer’s habit selling dope. He embodies the spirit of many disaffected residents of Camden, taking the viewer on a tour of post-industrial American decay. His own quest to sobriety will eventually force the hand of Nani to make a change, as they forge parallel paths to recovery.

Hasan’s filmmaking journey is inspiring to say the least. He is using cinema to tell stories that will hopefully change the way people think. Higher Love is available on all major VOD platforms. His current project focuses on the Yazidi Genocide in Iraq.

Enjoy my conversation with Hasan Oswald.

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