CMI Hafid Abdelmoula | Director | DFM '16 | New Mexico State University - BE BOLD. Shape the Future.
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Hafid Abdelmoula | Director | DFM '16


Hafid Abdelmoula is a director living in Las Cruces, New Mexico. His film Broken Gaiete won Best Feature Film at the 2021 Santa Fe Film Festival in February.

When did you graduate from CMI?

May 2016

What was your area of emphasis at CMI?

Digital Filmmaking, with a focus on directing.

Where are you and what are you doing now?

Right now, I just finished my first feature film, Broken Gaiete, and I am in the process of writing two more scripts. As far as the film business, nothing that big. I’m having people contact me for Broken Gaiete about possible distribution. My payday job is working at a dealership, and that’s what pays to make the movies.

What do you like most about what you’re doing?

Well work is just work. I’m holding a big position at the dealership--it’s very demanding. But film is everything I wanted to do since I was a kid. I like to write. I like to shoot. Make movies. Tell stories. The process of creating really feeds my soul and intellect. That’s where I find myself. Where I get really excited and happy.

I tend to look at life in an absurd way. Things that we miss in life and you focus on those and think “Wow, I never looked at it that way.” That’s my approach. I really wanna tell stories from my perspective to show people how I see the world. I’m hoping to make people think. To create a conversation.

What are some projects/jobs that you’ve worked on since graduating?

Since graduating from CMI, I worked on a few films. PAd on Captain Fantastic. After that, I jumped into grad school. I spent these two and a half years working on Broken Gaiete.

I went to VCFA way up in Vermont because it fit my schedule and the way they work. They have a lot of people who are established and in the business, so my cohorts were big-shots. When they asked me what I wanted out of the school, I said “I wanna make a feature film in two years.” They thought I was crazy.

The first month I started shooting and showed them the footage, they were just blown away. They gave me a nice, generous scholarship just to continue. The whole year I shot it, and when I showed it at the end, they gave me another scholarship as a merit of how great the work is. They really took care of me. And I’m so proud of the movie. It was sweat, tears, blood, all of the above.


Official poster for Broken Gaiete

Tell us about Broken Gaiete.

I see the film in three layers. On the surface, this man wakes up in the middle of nowhere not remembering his past, crosses this village with this woman who claims to be his mom. Discovering all these weird and strange rules, he decides to stay and live there. But things turn around and become very dangerous for him, and he has to figure out how to survive.

The other layer is really a human development. You will see the five stages of human development, and that’s really what I based the film around. The bottom layer is issues: social issues, human behavior, religion, and politics.

When I came here from Morocco, it was a culture shock for me. I didn’t speak with people for a year or two, just to learn and observe it. I realized that what could be right here is wrong there, and what’s wrong there is right here. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? It’s all perception. So I said: I’m gonna make a movie like that. I’m curious. I question a lot of things, and the movie is really about that.


Promotional material for Broken Gaiete

What classes and learning experiences at CMI were the most valuable in building towards your current job?

I enjoyed all of them, really. Mitch’s Cinematography, Editing with Sherwin and Rajeev, Ross Marks’s Acting for Film. It was a really good foundation. Even when I went to VCFA I felt like I knew more than what a lot of people know, and it was because of CMI. I think I have 15 or 20 short films that I did through CMI, but The Wall in the Garden was the one that really got me ready for everything.

What are you doing when you aren’t working?

When I’m not working, I’m writing. But if I’m totally fried from working and film, I spend a lot of time with my family. Go outside, go outdoors, drive. I have a wife and I have kids, so I try to manage my time.

What’s some advice you would give a CMI student (or maybe potential CMI student) about their time at CMI?

Take advantage of the time being there. Take advantage of equipment. Take advantage of your advisors. Do as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to fail. Go for it. You have an idea? Get the equipment, go make films. Go write. Just go at it! There’s no right or wrong, because once you’re out of that environment, it’s gone. It’s not easy once you’re out. You’d rather fail in school than fail in real life. Be ferocious.

Where can people see your work?

Broken Gaiete played at the Santa Fe Film Festival. I have stuff on Vimeo and YouTube. The Wall in the Garden is on Amazon Prime. Google is the key.

Link to your website:

What’s next for you?

Make more films. I do have some ideas. I’m from Morocco originally, and one of my previous cohorts from college is actually running the studio in Ouarzazate, where they shot Gladiator. There is a historical movie I’m working on, and it’s a huge project that I’m going to have to involve a lot of history professors to be as accurate as possible. That’s something I’m gonna shoot in Morocco sometime in the future.

But here? I have two projects that I really want to get off the ground, and I do have a series that’s in the works as well.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Well I want to thank all my advisors and professors. Ross Marks, Amy Lanasa, Mitch Fowler, Sherwin Lau, and Rajeev. Cruces has a lot of talented people, and I’m hoping one day everybody will get to work together and make a massive project, because we really do have a lot of talent here. We just need to get together.


Cast/crew of Broken Gaiete