How Filmmaker Iram Haq Used Her Own Kidnapping As Inspiration

Photo Via KinoLorber.

“‘You have to tell people how evil people can be when they are full of fear’”

Children of immigrants have a unique experience as they grow up: a heightened level of parental expectation, a misalignment of ideals, and the ever-present burden of “what will everyone else think?” The stakes feel much higher for first-generation residents of a new country, and this is what Norwegian filmmaker Iram Haq sought to explore with her moving sophomore film, What Will People Say.

This push-and-pull between old and new worlds is what forms the basis of the film, which follows the story of Nisha, a Norwegian teen sent to her parents' home country of Pakistan after being discovered with a boy in her room. Based of Haq’s own experience of being kidnapped by her parents and forced to live in Pakistan with relatives, it’s a film that juggles the expectations of being a dutiful daughter with a young woman’s innate desire to just live her life. However, What Will People Say is also a work spurred by her recognition of how unproductive her parents’ rigid line of thinking was—and that’s something Haq is eager to emphasize. In honor of the U.S. premiere of What Will People Say, NYLON spoke with Haq about making her most personal film yet, what her family thought, and why she wanted to open, as she put it, a “Pandora’s box” of emotion for this film. Read our Q&A, below, to find out more.

How close is this story to your own life?
This film is inspired by my own experience. My story is fictionalized, but I was born and grew up in Norway. And when I was a teenager, I was kidnapped [and taken] to Pakistan. There are several similarities, but it’s [not the same as my] story. I used a lot of what I went through in the movie though.

So making this film reopened old wounds for you?
Yeah, it was hard. This was a story I really wanted to tell for a very long time. It took me a long time to get the courage to tell this story. I was also fussing with how to tell it and from what point of view. Because I always wanted to understand the parents' view as well. As much as I understood Nisha's point of view—since it was mine—and many other girls'... [I felt like there was more]. 

But this happens in so many places around the world. When I was going to make this movie, I was like, Okay, this is a story, that is not necessary to tell anymore. It's something that just happened in the '90s. Then I did a little research and I found out that [things like this and honor killings] are things that happen still. I felt like this was an important story to tell, because it's not just my story. It is something that happens, and we need to get rid of these kinds of problems. 

Of course, it was really hard to dig into, to open this Pandora's box and relive all the trauma that I went through when I was young and had to use to tell this story.

Can you tell me a little bit more about your findings?
Social control [plays into it all on] so many levels. Some girls have people spying on them—seeing what they are doing, what they're wearing, how they're acting, who they are with, and all that—that’s everyday life. Then you have, of course, the girls who get killed. I can't say exact numbers, but I know this happens. It even happened in Italy a few months ago. A girl got killed by her family. And you have some girls—like, I was one of them—who get sent to their parents' home country. I stayed with my father's family.

What did your parents think about you making this film?
The interesting thing was that I wasn't [really] in touch with my family for many years. [The kidnapping] happened over 25 years ago for me. But my father, he fell ill a few years ago, while I was writing the script. I felt like I should go and visit him since he was so old. He had cancer, and he was going to die.

He said sorry for everything he did to me. That really changed a lot. So my script changed, because I got some answers. [The movie gives] his point of view, too, his fear. I started to learn who he was and why he acted the way he did when I was a young girl. That also became an ethical problem for me. Like, Okay, how should I make this movie now? We're good friends.

So I told him that I wanted to make this movie. He said to me, "This is such an important film. You have to do it, and you have to tell people how evil people can be when they are full of fear." He supported me before he died. All of my family members have watched it in Norway, and they all are proud. I guess they learned something out of what happened that time. 

It was really a big surprise for me that they took it so well… I was super afraid how they would react to this. I was so surprised and relieved, of course. That was maybe one of the best things about making this movie—that they could also learn and be proud of me for once.

It’s a different dynamic in every immigrant family, but what was yours like growing up?
I felt loyalty to my parents because I didn't want to hurt them, I didn't want to put them in a bad spot or make problems for them. On the other side, I really, really wanted to be a part of Norwegian society, where I was born and grew up. I wanted to be like every other kid. I was really torn in between those two worlds. Now I'm 42, and lately, I've been like, Now, I know much more who I am. I'm fine as what I am: a mix of cultures.

I noticed that Nisha gets really subdued and quiet over the course of the film. Was that a purposeful decision? To make it less dialogue-driven as it went along?
What happens through the film is, she's a very sweet, open-minded girl when she lives in Norway, and she knows how to handle the double life. She has no idea of how harsh the consequences will be if she gets caught with this boy in her room. After that, she gets really slowly put down, not slowly, pretty hard, many times. Every time she tried to raise her voice, it's a punishment waiting for her. That punishment is so painful that it's better to shut up and to just behave so you are accepted, instead of being thrown out of the little she has left.  

What Will People Say is now playing at IFC Center in NYC. It opens in L.A. on August 3 at Laemmle’s Music Hall.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.