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Haya Waseem

Living in: Toronto, Ontario
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Haya Waseem was born in Pakistan, raised in Switzerland and immigrated to Canada as a teenager. Haya’s eclectic background deeply informs her work. With a curious and romantic gaze, her work often captures personal portraits with a heightened sense of intimacy. After graduating from Sheridan College’s media arts program, she worked as a documentary film editor and moved on to directing shorts that screened at festivals around the world including Shahzad (TIFF ‘16) and Familiar (Berlinale ‘16). Haya continues to strengthen her craft and believes in the transcendental nature of cinema. She is currently developing her debut feature film.


Where were you born, where did you grow up, where do you live now?
Born in Pakistan, raised in Switzerland and then moved to Canada as a teenager. Now living in Brooklyn.

First film you made, and where and when?
Probably a horror movie with my cousins during a sleepover when I was 11 or 12 and could steal my dad’s camera.

Latest film you made, and where and when?
Latest film was a short piece on 65mm in Chinatown, Manhattan, last November.

Describe your current living space.
It’s a bright, long apartment that encourages a lot of walking.

What Canadian would you challenge to make an isolation movie?
I would challenge Ben Petrie and Grace Glowicki. They make magic, always.

In the history of cinema who’s isolation move would you want to see?
Whose isolation movie I would want to see? Probably Terrence Malick.

Worst thing about being in isolation?
|The possibility for adventure outside of your normal comfort zone. Shared experiences with others. A spot you fall in love with and can’t wait to return to.

Best thing about being in isolation?
New experience. Time for reflection and noticing new behaviours and feelings. Cooking lots. Slowing down. Catching up with friends and family remotely.

Favourite book to read in isolation?
I’ve been reading a range of things, from articles to newsletters —people are sharing. In terms of books, I’m making my way through A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I really enjoyed The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga recently.

Favourite music to listen to in isolation?
I’ve been enjoying Spotify taking me through an unexpected playlist of recommendations to friends suggesting music. The wider the range, the better. Solange’s When I Get Home has been on a heavy rotation these past couple weeks.

Favourite movies to watch in isolation?
Eliza Hittman’s Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always was a very moving recent watch. I was looking forward to it’s release during these times and it left me speechless!

Favourite meal in isolation?
Daal and rice with ground beef and peppers.

What’s the last best thing you cooked?
Browned butter chocolate chip cookies.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell me?
Not really, just that it’s a very unique moment for the world, and for artists in particular. I’m reflecting a lot on what sharing stories means and looks like in this specific period of time. I’m not quite sure I have discovered any answers or insights yet, but I feel there is definitely something brewing inside and I’m excited to find out what emerges, from myself and others.