My StoryI am Hassan Zee. For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to make films.
My enthusiasm for storytelling first took shape as young child growing up in Pakistan. There, I would walk the streets with music in my head and stories playing out before my eyes. Everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by beauty and culture - life, love and drama. At the age of 13, I began to put my passion for the arts into action. I got my start in the world of entertainment at Radio Pakistan where I wrote and produced radio dramas and musical programs. My years at Radio Pakistan were very rewarding; the program provided me with a platform to showcase my abilities and to make people happy. It was then that I realized that my passion for storytelling and my passion for people were one and the same.
At the age of 26 I earned my medical degree and served my residency in a burn unit at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. During my time at the hospital, I cared for women who were victims of what is known as "Bride Burning." This archaic practice is used as a form of punishment against women who fail to provide sufficient dowry to their in-laws after marriage, or fail to provide offspring. In most cases, this horrific act is carried out by a womans husband or in-laws, and the results are devastating. Many women are burned to death some beyond recognition; and those who survive often live with unimaginable physical and emotional pain. Even more shocking, is the fact that some women burn themselves as an act of self-immolation.
The impact of my experience in the burn unit was so profound that it changed me forever. While working at the hospital, I made a promise to myself that I would do everything in my power to bring attention to the injustices I had witnessed. For centuries, women have been mistreated by the men in my culture. All over the world, women are continuously forced into marriages with men they do not love. I needed to raise a voice for those women and what better way to do it, than through the power of film.
So, with a renewed sense of purpose and camera in hand, I came to the United States to make films. For the past 12 years I have fully immersed myself into my art. I have written, produced and directed a number of short films, as well as two feature films, Night of Henna and Bicycle Bride. Each of my films is a reflection of my culture, my experiences, and the people I have met along the way. It is my sincere hope that they will bring you as much joy as I have had making them.
Dr. Hassan Zee is a writer, producer, and director with a rich and varied background in the media arts, including radio, television, and film. Though he holds a doctoral degree in medicine, filmmaking, is his preferred medicinal practice. Through his work, Zee has discovered innovative ways of challenging rigid perceptions and prejudices through pioneering and poetic storytelling. At age 13, Zee worked at Radio Pakistan, producing drama and music programs. His television accomplishments include pioneering of cartoon dubbing in his local language, Urdu, and writing and directing dramas for Pakistan television. "The Dim Light", which he directed, was produced by the Ministry of Public and Foreign Affairs, Pakistan.
Zee came to the United States ten years ago and began producing radio shows. Dr. Zee also hosts "American Masala" which is a popular music and talk show within the Pakistani and Indian community of the San Francisco Bay Area. Zee received a grant to make a short film for emerging producers from Film Arts Foundation. He wrote, produced, directed, and edited a 14-minute short, "My First Kiss,". The film was screened at the South Asian American Film Festival, and at "Straight Outta FAF" by the San Francisco Film Arts Foundation. "Night of Henna," Zee's first feature film, got theatrical distribution,was released in USA and now available on dvd on netflix. With his new film "Bicycle Bride," Zee is bringing Bollywood to Hollywood. For his second feature film, Zee was able to draw on diverse talents including rising star Andreas Wilson (The Evil - Academy Award nominated film) and Melanie Kannakoda (Miss India -USA). Zee is currently in post-production of Bicycle Bride which will be released in 2010 and is currently in development on the script for his next film, a psychological thriller, "Strange Feelings."