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Short Film

Strange Cities are Familiar

Strange Cities Are Familiar is a short film about memories, guilt and resilience, inspired by the writing of Mourid...

“Strange Cities Are Familiar is a short film about memories, guilt and resilience, inspired by the writing of Mourid Barghouti, and the director's personal experiences. It tells the story of Ashraf, a Palestinian father living in the UK, struggling to confront the memories that haunt him: the promises he couldn’t keep, the family he couldn’t protect.”

Lens/Camera Information
Lens series: Cooke S4/i
Focus length: 18mm, 25mm, 32mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm
Original Aspect Ratio: 2.35
Cameras: Alexa Mini
Format: Digital
Rental Company: Shoot Blue

DOP Information
Director of Photography: Diana Olifirova
Agent: Wizzo and Co

Production Information
Production: Strange Cities Are Familiar
Production Website:
Producer: Maria Caruana Galizia
Director: Saeed Taji Farouki
Colourist: Lucie Barbier
Production Company:  Candle and Bell
Post Production Company: Company3
IMDb Link:

Nominated for BSC Emerging Cinematographer Award 2018

DOP Diana Olifirova on her lens choice
“This film is an impressionistic film that is a mix of crafted narrative, memories, fantasies and things happening in a way of documentary that we wanted the camera to feel spontaneous, responding to things in an imperfect way.

Many references the director showed me were classical paintings, with very “slow” and subtle lighting on them, deep colours and soft quality of strokes. I am a big Cooke fan for such an image that feels like a painting. I was going to pick an Anamorphic set but then rethought my choices because the “documentary” side of the film was also equally important. We wanted for the audience to be a little confused and create a strong emotion on the screen, so instead of using two different looks or set of lenses we went for one – S4 that could be as soft and painterly as you like but also quite “real”and with a bite when needed – of course this also depends on lighting, movement and location, but I find Cooke S4 to be very versatile and help to create a striking image in any situation.”