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The Illegal

USA 2019
produced by
Danish Renzu, Tara Tucker, Husein Shroff (executive), Ravi Potharklanka (executive) for Renzu Films, Tucker/Hess Productions
directed by Danish Renzu
starring Suraj Sharma, Iqbal Theba, Jay Ali, Hannah Masi, William R. Moses, Shweta Tripathi, Adil Hussain, Neelima Azim, Neelofar Hamid, Jully Lee, Farshad Farahat, Danny Vasquez, Radhika Chaudhari, Ismail Bashey, Shila Ommi, Ricky Wood, Darren Dupree Washington, Natalie Ford, Jeff Bee, Janilee M. Ava, Dalia Kaissi, Shyaam Karra, Nirav Mehta, Daniel Merino, Mustafa Haidari
written by Danish Renzu, additional writers: Shazia Malik, Tara Tucker, music by Éric Neveux

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Hassan (Suraj  Sharma) comes from India to the USA to go to film school in Los Angeles, and of course initially he's full of ambition - which is a bit squashed pretty much upon arrival when he learns he can't stay at the relatives who have promised him abode. When he stumbles upon an Indian restaurant and upon elderly waiter Babaji (Iqbal Theba), who gets him a job as busboy and even abode (if only a bed in a shared room) in the place's sleeping quarters, Hassan thinks his luck has turned. Everything works well for a while, too, and Hassan even finds a girlfriend, Jessica (Hannah Masi) - but the long hours at the restaurant put a strain on Hassan, personally as well as concerning his studies, and he grows more and more convinced that the place's owner Khan (Jay Ali) is exploiting his employees. And of course he also doesn't like being bullied by Khan, so eventually everything comes to a head, Hassan and Khan get into a fight, and ultimately Hassan is fired. And while at first, this seems like disaster, Hassan soon finds a place to sleep at a Hindu temple and a job as runner at a film studio, which also gets him energized for his film classes again, and also his relationship with Jessica is going better than ever - when he recieves a call from back home that his father had a heart attack and needs surgery, something Hassan's family just can't afford on their own - but the money's needed now, so Hassan pretty much has to chip in ... but unfortunately the only man Hassan knows who might be willing and able to lend him the money is Khan, whom Hassan, with Babaji's help, doesn't only have to beg for forgiveness, he also has to sign over his workforce for many years in exchange for a loan ...


A very compelling film about the dark sides of "the American Dream" - and a film that's probably not for everyone as it doesn't sugarcoat things, and doesn't aim for a happy ending or a conciliatory message - but that's also what makes this film so compelling, because it feels real, which is of course also mirrored in a realistic directorial approach and very grounded performances by the ensemble. And all of this makes this movie very relatable, even if Hassan's fate seems alien to you, which, provided you're in the right mindset, makes this well worth a watch.


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD