Private Project


Conversations about life, love and loss, naturally ensue between friends, old and new, over shisha and coffee. Generations reminisce about their shisha adventures, from underground shisha dens in Sudan, to the bustling shisha scene in Russia.

  • Rolla Tahir
  • Mercedes Cardella
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    May 21, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Arabic, English
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Rolla Tahir

Rolla is a filmmaker based in Toronto. She’s lensed short, narrative and experimental films, which screened across Canada and internationally, including the UK, Germany, the States and Guatemala. Her first experimental short film 'Sira' screened at the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival.

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Director Statement

The film is a docu-hybrid that takes an observational approach to a community of multi-generational, Arab-Canadians, East-Africans, South-East Asian, who frequent a space that is under threat of vanishing.

These community spaces are under threat from the city smoke-ban, which was instituted in 2015. They are currently diminishing and consistently raided and fined, which is perpetrated even more so by the economic hit brought about by the pandemic. These policies when instituted do not often take into consideration the human toll that is affected as a result. I liken this to the city-wide gentrification that has been uprooting lives as of late in Toronto and causing mass exodus from the core further away from the City.

Having been part of this community, which has welcomed me and provided an escape during uncertain years of my life, and acted as a support network, essentially as home away from home, I feel privileged to represent them through the unique insight I have gained over the past 10 years. The film reflects a wish to escape the reality of life, by members of the community.

I chose black and white film stock to unify the look and distill the elements down to the basics, maintain focus on the individuals, their dialogue and interactions, rather than their surroundings per se.