Breadmakers in The Edinburgh Evening News

Sunday, 02 November 2008 19:03 by Robin Mitchell in News

This was an article published in the Edinburgh Evening News on Saturday 1st November 2008 by Sarah Howden.

It shouldn't have worked. After all, the work of a bakery hardly makes for a riveting plot line. But Breadmakers has captivated audiences and just bagged its second industry award. Not bad for 28-year-old Yasmin Fedda from Abbeyhill, who swapped her apron for the camera and catapulted the Edinburgh bakers to international fame.

"The film allows people to see into a world they wouldn't normally see," explains Yasmin, whose film just won a £46,000 film festival Black Pearl Award in Abu Dhabi at the Middle East International Film Festival. "They got in touch with me and asked me to submit my film. I did but didn't think much more of it. Unfortunately I couldn't go to the awards ceremony so when I heard I was really surprised. It's amazing."

Her poignant 11-minute documentary is mostly silent, with the images in the Garvald Bakery speaking for themselves. Staffed by people with Down's Syndrome and autism, it was opened to provide a routine and creative space for adults with learning difficulties, as well as work towards college certificates for their skills. "It is such an inspiring place that it just made sense to make it there," she says. "Yes, it shows bread being made but, more importantly, it shows the relationships in the bakers and how people work together."

Growing up in Kuwait, Yasmin, who calls herself "Lebanese Canadian", decided to move to the Capital to study in 1998. "I had come to Edinburgh on holiday when I was young, but remembered nothing about it," she laughs. "Then, when it came to choosing a university, something made me pick Edinburgh."

Studying anthropology at Edinburgh University, Yasmin was unsure of what career path to follow. So when she graduated in 2002 she decided to volunteer. "This was when I first worked with Garvald and I just loved what they were all about. I went on to Manchester to get a Masters in anthropology and filmmaking and, when I graduated, I came back and became a relief worker with them. It was then I heard about the bakery and thought it was so unique."

Then she heard about the Scottish Documentary Institute's Bridging the Gap scheme. "The theme was white, and I came up with the proposal of white noise and the noises in the bakery. They liked it. From the initial proposal to editing, it took nine months with just two weeks of filming."

The heart-warming documentary went on to win an award at 2007's Edinburgh International Film Festival for Short Scottish Film and was also nominated for by BAFTA Scotland in the best short film category.

But Yasmin is unfazed – even when her film was shown at Robert Redford's renowned and star-studded Sundance Film Festival in the US."I went in January and it was a great festival – they had everything from small independent films to big budget ones," she says. "It was great for networking and they do say it's star-studded but I never saw anyone. I was too busy doing my thing."

Having recently tied the knot with city charity worker, Dan Gorman, 28, it's clear that Yasmin doesn't follow convention. Indeed her wedding was held in Syria, with her family flying in from all over the Middle East and Dan's Irish family travelling too, so it makes sense that the filmmaker's next projects are as thought-provoking and challenging as Breadmakers.

"Yes, one is a commission about a walk in Palestine which includes both locals and internationals. It was really exhausting to do but so interesting. The film allows you to see it from both eyes. The people there were really friendly and open, and it has such a beautiful landscape. We see the news, the economic problems, but until you are actually there you just don't realise how intense it is."

Her second film is set in Damascus and fuses Greek Orthodoxy with Christianity. "There's two sides to every story," is her philosophy in life.Her own life is firmly based in the Capital. "It's been a little bit hectic recently and I've been all over the place, but it's just till the end of the year," she laughs. "I love it in Edinburgh – apart from the cold and the darkness in the winter. Why didn't I realise that all those years ago?"

Tags: Breadmakers Festival Award