Sam Turpin and Katya Abedian slay personal demons with ‘Sahara Flow’

“Courage is very important!” 

This nugget of wisdom was buried at the end of Sam Turpin’s answer to a question about the incredible short film/music video that he and Katya Abedian created together for his song, “Sahara Flow”. It’s not easy to be courageous (as a certain cowardly dog knows all too well), however, the rewards it yields – more often than not – outweigh the difficulties brought on by succumbing to your fears. 

“There came a point in my life after I lost my mother where I had to decide what I was going to be and begin to pursue it. I had nothing to lose, so I started to follow my dreams but of course, that is never easy.” For Sam, the video for “Sarah Flow” represents the journey of self discovery after the loss of his mother sent him along a lonely path of coming home to himself. “We all have demons to confront inside [of] ourselves and over the past 6 years, I had to find several ways to do that without anybody really showing me the way.” Sam looked for guidance by seeking out ideas and ideologies that have worked for those who came before him. “I would research different kinds of spirituality [along with] cultural heritage[s] from all over the world and by now, I’m a firm believer that we have to choose what works for us and leave behind [that which] doesn’t.” While Sam was raised Jewish, he was always encouraged to keep a perspective that found its articulation and rooting in him being from and growing up in South Africa and one which in a Pan Africanist tradition, considered the rest of the continent. “This may have given me a starting point – even though I wouldn’t call myself pious or religious.” For Katya, the film is about “coming to terms with the unknown, with the idea that we can never fully understand everything that we want to at one time”. One of the greatest frustrations about life, is that realisation that we can only know so much. That our perspectives are always limited and somehow; we need to amass the courage to accept that. “It takes a lot of patience, effort and perseverance,” she explains. “Even then, we can only understand it to the limits of our capacity at that [point in] time, which doesn’t mean we’ve understood something to its fullness yet.” 

“Sahara Flow” BTS

Katya and Sam met at the Joburg screening of her highly acclaimed short film Skin Diver. Sam was enamoured with her visual style and style of directing  (it’s easy to see why) and introduced himself asking if they could work together down the road. “She was very open to the idea and so when “Sahara Flow” dropped last year I sent her the song and she told me she loved it! We immediately started throwing ideas back and forth via email which eventually led to meetings where we began to discuss the project.” “We met up a couple of times for breakfast and the botanical gardens where we first started conceptualising and discussing the early vision of the film,” Katya recalls, “So it’s been about a year in the making.” Despite not knowing each other beforehand, the two built up a relationship of trust. “I think it is Sam’s focus and dedication to seeing a project through to the end and his trust in me and my vision and taste that made me take on the project. From the beginning, he always trusted me from both a directing and production point of view and let me exercise a lot of my own interpretation and [add my own] flavour on his original overall idea for the film.” The two of them connected on the vision of the project and it comes through in the final product. “We both knew we wanted this piece to be an immersive and spiritual film that told a story. Something of substance and thoughtfulness. We both were committed to applying the patience and consistency needed to bring it to life, which is very rare.” Katya likes to make sure she doesn’t rush things. “Attention to detail and meaning in a project is very important to me, so to be able to not have to rush was a huge part of the process, it allowed ideas to mature and become refined organically, which is what I was seeking to achieve.”

“Sahara Flow” BTS

The film itself has a Midsummer Night’s Dream meets Donny Darko vibe to it. There are no fairies to trick Sam or men in bunny suits to overcome but when you watch it, I think you’ll see what I mean. Instead of tricky nymphs, Sam is guided by goddesses. “The goddesses’ or spirit guides in the film represent these different sources that I draw from for strength. The most obvious I think is the film envelope which is the legacy that my mother who was a photographer left for me – I always use her life as a guide.” The divine feminine beings in the film “represent the different lights that guide our path and show us the way – whether they be ancestors, angels, prophets, sages, spirits, teachers, scientists etc. Broadly [speaking] for me, they represent people in history who left behind wisdom for humanity to draw on and which help[s] us today – in different traditions all over the world.” For Katya, Sam’s journey in the film “is also about trust. Trust that guidance and confirmations come from the higher source that transcends earthly limitations. The film is reflective of a soul’s journey, protected and guided by spirits that are no longer confined to earth nor blinded by its distractions.” She sees it as painting “a vision of a futuristic reality that is balanced, anchored and guided by the forces of the natural and spiritual worlds.”

A lot of us have been forced to face ourselves in this time of isolation. So, especially at this time, it’s important to be courageous. To dig deep, face our fears, and to trust in ourselves as we slay the demons within.

“Sahara Flow” BTS

Portrait of Katya Abedian by Andrea Baioni

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