My Burglar and I – A Short Film by Kaweh Modiri

With Bodkin Ras, filmmaker Kaweh Modiri has mixed fact and fiction for fascinating results, but Modiri’s intriguing experimentation with film does not begin here. In 2011 he released Mijn Inbreker en Ik, which translates as My Burglar and I, with extremely interesting results.

On the verge of finishing his debut novel, Kaweh woke up one morning to discover that the disused factory he and 6 others were living in had been broken in to. Amongst other things, the most important thing that was stolen was Kaweh’s laptop, which had the manuscript saved on it. As luck would have it, the burglar returned and was locked inside the factory. Kaweh was in London at the time, but his flatmates retrieved everything that had been stolen. When Kaweh was reunited with his computer, he found something that inspired the award winning short film.

“I discovered four hours of home footage that my burglar had left me. He was practicing cool looks as if he were posing in front of a mirror, and introduced himself to the camera. Our connection became very intimate. First he was in my room and now I had entered his.”  Kaweh Modiri

It turns out that the burglar had won an award for theatre writing. Kaweh contacted him, and what started as a confrontation, turned into an art project. At first, he was reluctant to be the subject of Kaweh’s film, avoiding the camera and rushing away, but this turned into an ongoing relationship where the two artists from different backgrounds came together in spite of the previous conflict.

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To say this is an innovative project is an understatement. It went on to première during the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2011 and was awarded the René Coelho Award from the Dutch Institute for Media Art. Documentary filmmakers are often required to be daring, entering environments where they may not be welcome or comfortable, and this short film is an excellent example. A documentary is a quest to find realness and avoid fiction, and this is perhaps the most relatable quality about this type of filmmaking. The audience are shown the world which they are a part of from a perspective that they either haven’t witnessed or considered.

Bodkin Ras, Kaweh’s debut feature, will continue to experiment with the documentary genre by placing a fictional character in real situations. This kind of innovation is what keeps the film industry fresh, and the reason that it is one of the most influential and popular mediums of today.

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My Burglar and I can be seen in full below: