OCA: Kamal, please briefly tell us about yourself and your film making.

Kamal Hasanov: I was born and raised in Azerbaijan, in Baku but I received my higher education in America. After returning, I began to work at the Central Bank of Azerbaijan and after four years working as a prudential policy and methodology specialist. But this is only from nine till six. After work, I, in the literal and figurative sense, take off my white collar and am engaged in creativity. I write short stories, novels and screenplays and periodically make short films.

OCA: You are the winner of the OCABF-2015 contest in the category “Video film”. Please tell us more about the film you made and why you decided to illustrate the story of Elshan Mamedli “Mantis”?

KH: “Mantis” is a story about my good friend, Elshan Mamedli, and is a modern interpretation of the classical story by Nikolai Gogol called, “Viy”. This short work, from the very first line, caught my attention with its interesting plot, deep dialogue about religion and philosophy and unexpected denouement and ending that makes pause for thought. In my video film, I wanted to show the ravishing passion and uncontrollable desire of every person to prove their truth, which can bring with it tragic consequences and destroy the lives of many people around.

OCA: How do you think self-expression is portrayed differently through film versus other literary methods of information transfer?

KH: Maybe it will sound strange coming from the mouth of the writer, but I think that film is a great medium in that it can be used to convey the whole atmosphere and the point of what is happening without any words. I always try to make my work memorable with nonverbal details – a singular aura, characters or emotions. Besides, in our days the most effective way to transmit information for Generation Y is through the screen.

OCA: You are also the author of numerous novels (co-authored with Samuel Gilbert), poems, short stories and plays. Do you have a favourite type of composition?

KH: I’ll tell you a funny story. One day I was talking with my friend Samuel about religion and we discussed the creation of universe. I jokingly said that God and the Devil were a married couple, and all earthly troubles were due to their divorce which meant that they cannot make peace with each other. By the end of the evening I developed a comic idea in a rather serious and multifaceted storyline, which formed the basis of the book “Columbus was a Smoker”. Sam felt a great desire to write a book together, and so this became our first collaboration and was a finalist in the category of best “literary work” at OECABF-2013. So I guess this one has to be my favourite work because through it I found my true mission.

OCA: What message would you give to our readers?

KH: Read books. No matter what parts of you worry or which of your inner feelings disturb you, these themes have all been written about before. Just find the right books to read and a decision will come to you of its own accord. And whoever does not find this applies to them has to write about their own unique case. This is the way that literature masterpieces are born.