Zach Jama | Xasuuqii Means Massacre and Other Recent Projects

Zach Jama
ACT at MIT

Second year ACT student Zach Jama is a documentary filmmaker and engineer who has worked in Canada, Jordan, Germany, and Tanzania on various film projects. His interests reside in exploring different forms of storytelling.

Zach’s thesis, Xasuuqii means Massacre, is a film reconstructed in fragments. The film is a current work-in-progress about mass graves in Northern Somalia (Somaliland), the search for unanswerable questions, and navigating the trauma involved in the cinematic process.

“During the ACT studio course, I experimented with a more temporally-fragmented editing style,” he said. “The resulting cuts aim to create a more appropriate experience that resembles the filmmaker’s memory, confrontations with past ancestral trauma, and the struggle to contextualize events that cannot be understood.”

In 2016, he produced his first one-hour investigative documentary film, Kill All but the Crows, with Al Jazeera English’s People & Power strand. The film follows the stories and memories of the people of Somaliland, who experienced war under the rule of General Siad Barre until he lost power in 1991, and a group of forensic investigators and human rights activists, who seek to bring alleged war criminal, Yusuf Abdi Ali (a.k.a. Colonel Tukeh), to account.

Zach’s Kill All but the Crows (Part I).

Zach’s Kill All but the Crows (Part II).

Another recent project, Shelina Stand Up!, is a short documentary film for Canada’s public broadcaster, CBC Docs, which recounts the journey of Shelina Merani as she learned to accept her unique style. Shelina is an artist, activist, and mother with Somali-Indo, Canadian, and Muslim identities, who uses fashion and stand up comedy as a way to build bridges between communities and find common ground between people.

Zach’s Shelina Stand Up!

Jama is currently working on a satire-comedy film about a pair of East African entrepreneurs that attract all the world’s foreign aid donors to solve the problems of “Africa’s largest rural slum”, which is actually a staged village comprised of hired African actors. He is also working on a film and VR experience, entitled “Criminalization on loop”, about the racial injustice and process of criminalization from the perspective of returning citizens, with visuals of artwork from youth of color.