Enlightenment Productions | Self Portrait
Enlightenment Productions is an award-winning film and TV production company based in London and founded in partnership between producer Hanan Kattan and writer and director Shamim Sarif.
TV and Film Production, Media and film, entertainment, shamim sarif, hanan kattan
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Self Portrait

On Sunday, I took Luca to the John Singer Sargent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. I’ve been a Sargent devotee since I did my Masters degree in Boston where I spent many happy hours at the MFA and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. (I also spent much time at International House of Pancakes eating 3 eggs and 3 pancakes to set me up for a long day of literary criticism, but that’s another story).

Over the years, I’ve been to more than a few art shows with my family, and here is what I learned:

For Hanan, ‘seeing’ a painting is literally that. Generally, if she catches a glimpse of it while doing a lap of the gallery, she’s seen it. While this is efficient – even the mammoth National Gallery can be covered in 10 minutes – it leaves me somewhat unsatisfied.

For Ethan, looking at paintings is just a strange thing to do. Paintings are old, they’re not interactive, and they can’t be viewed at 4k resolution on a screen (well, not while you’re in a museum). So what’s the point?

So when I suggested the Sargent visit, I admit I was slightly relieved that Ethan needed to revise for his GCSE exams, and Hanan felt she should stay home with him.

Luca and I floated through Sunday morning London, pointing out landmarks and we made it to the gallery early. Rather than join the waiting queue (‘keenies’ said Luca with disdain) we stopped for a hot chocolate. I love the relish with which 12 year olds eat whipped cream.

The show was exceptional. A series of intense portraits, some life like, others more impressionistic. But all of them felt as if they captured a moment of the soul of their subjects and also a very specific time and place in history – when achievers and the wealthy often sat for portraits after finishing whatever they were achieving. Quite a change from the selfies that Luca and I took.

By the time we got home, Hanan had found plenty of time in her morning to prepare my next To Do list. At the top was ‘Finish new movie script before Cannes’. I asked if she meant this Cannes Film Festival, which starts on Wednesday, and where we are headed for market screenings of Despite the Falling Snow. Sadly she did, so I would write more, but you understand, I have a script to finish….

Shamim Sarif
  • Cait Montgomery
    Posted at 19:07h, 12 May

    Hello 🙂

    There is a feeling about standing in a room with a painting that cannot be replicated. Perhaps it is the smell, or vast empty space around you. Maybe it is the knowledge that what you see can be touched, and felt beneath the skin (although one can never touch paintings in galleries – watch me try!). There is a gallery down the road from me where I am often the only person in the gallery. I get to move from room to room and stand singularly in front of a painting and experience its physical nature within space and relation to my person. (The joys of living in a place where an art gallery is an old person thing and old people only ever rock up on pensioners day :)) Also the gallery has not very famous work so whipping through it and into the coffee shop occurs on an occasion. .

    This being said. I look at famous paintings online because I will never get to the fancy over crowed galleries or museums to see these works. Also one can eat and drink while viewing them (best deal ever).

    I have a question about the script. Are you pitching it at Cannes? (I’d ask what it’s about but you’d probably then have to kill me). And how long about does it take you to write a script?

    Good luck and best wishes

  • kritika
    Posted at 12:17h, 12 May

    Big big fan of urs..always liked ur blog…waiting for your new movie and eagerly waiting for ur new blog…

  • Purnima Reghunathan
    Posted at 11:22h, 12 May


    I’m a huge fan of your work in movie, book and your blog. I came across your first movie “I can’t think straight” that it give people hope and inspiration to see people who are in love can overcome many challenges. Also, I’m Indian Girl who had grow up in same way like in this movie does make me feel like I’m not alone as I thought as I try to figure out my way who I am as a person and be true who I am that is what give me hope and inspiration to see real movie with many feelings that represents a human being who are struggling to love someone who they want to be with while overcome many obstacles. I also love your writings especially when it’s funny when you’re raise wonderful family with your wife just like any normal family does. Keep it up to create movie like this more in the future!

    Your truly fan,