Breadmakers: Channel 4

This article was published on Channel 4’s 4Talent website.

Yasmin Fedda is a Lebanese Canadian national, of Palestinian origin, raised in Kuwait. So what was she doing in Gorgie of all places? As she tells Malcolm Jack, it's all about bridging the gap.

Yasmin originally arrived in Scotland to study social anthropology in Edinburgh. After graduating, she moved to Manchester to do a postgraduate in visual anthropology, which is where she first started looking at life through the camera lens.

"I was doing an academic subject," says Yasmin, "and wanted to make it more accessible. I wanted to experiment with making films. Using socially interesting subjects, but expressing them artistically."

"I wanted to experiment with film, using socially interesting subjects, but expressing them artistically."

Yasmin's masters film Milking the Desert proved her first screen triumph, gaining selections and shortlistings at film festivals as far and wide as Sheffield, Paris, Moscow, Montreal and Rio de Janeiro.

"It was my first film, set in a monastery in Syria," she explains. "It was a mixed sex, mixed sect monastery in the desert, where they work toward better understanding between Muslims and Christians. It's politicised, but in a country where you're not supposed to be."

A further documentary, exploring the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria in Miami - Siento Una Voz (I Hear a Voice) - followed, before Yasmin undertook projects in Newcastle and Edinburgh.

"I'm just happy people liked the characters."

Yasmin was working as a volunteer at the Garvald Centre in Gorgie - a centre for adults with learning difficulties - when she heard the call out for the Scottish Documentary Institute's annual Bridging the Gap scheme. The theme was 'white', something that brought to mind the Centre's bakery workshop, which makes organic bread for shops throughout the city.

"I thought about it for ages," she says, "then thought 'oh, flour and 'white', in the bakery context'. That wasn't enough, so I incorporated white noise - all the sounds of the bakery mixing together: the mechanical sounds, people singing and whistling and chatting."

Shot over two weeks, her ten-minute short gives an insight into the community and characters in the bakery, and the way they interact. It's really struck a chord with audiences since debuting at the 2007 Edinburgh International Film Festival, where it scooped the Scottish Short Documentary Award.

"I'm not sure why!" admits Yasmin. "The one thing people have commented on is the absence of voiceover. A lot of people thought it didn't need one - it's quite visual - they just had to watch it. And some people felt it's kind of rhythmical as well. I'm just happy people liked the characters."

"It's good that people are interested in seeing that kind of thing - it's not just about political polemics."

As mundane an environment as Breadmakers' setting might seem, Yasmin saw no reason why a film shot there shouldn't be as fascinating as her previous projects.

"The reason I liked working there in the first place was that it's a really interesting project," she says. "Even though my other projects seem really exotic and far away, to me they're all equal. And as an outsider going there, Gorgie seems just as exotic."

It might well take her to more exotic locations yet, because Breadmakers has been selected to screen at further festivals in Finland and Iran. Yasmin hopes to attend both, although immigration might prevent her visiting the latter.

"I'm going to try and make it," she says. "Whatever happens, it's just interesting that they picked it. I'm glad they picked a film that's about something really small. It's good that people are interested in seeing that kind of thing - it's not just about political polemics."

"I'd like to bring stories from the Middle East here and vice versa."

Yasmin hopes to work further through her films towards narrowing the cultural space between the West and Middle East. As a fluent English and Arabic speaker with a foot in both locations, she's in a great position to do so.

"It helps when you can speak the languages," she says. "I'd also like to bring stories from the Middle East here, because often I feel that people don't know what it's like. It would be nice to share what's happening there with other people. And vice versa."

So where to next then?

"Hmmm, let's see... Newtongrange?" she jokes. "At the moment I'm in Edinburgh, but perhaps somewhere in Syria, and hopefully Iran as well. That's the first port of call. And the West Bank hopefully, in Jerusalem. I'm developing a few projects. We'll see which one happens first."