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Archive for the ‘Cinema’ Category

Film South Asia 07

Oct 15,2007

Film South Asia 07

Has just finished in Nepal. There were 48 films selected for showing out of 300 and I am pleased to say that Bostrobalikara: Garment Girls of Bangladesh was one of them ( soon on Amazon…yes, i know, I am waiting too). Read the synopses of some of the films at the festival here.

Swapnabhumi: The Promised Land

Oct 8,2007

Last week, in the midst of our documentary team’s ideological battles, I sorely missed the October hues of good old blighty - my absolute favourite month mired though it is in sadness and passing. I even contemplated how I would stage my walkout if some things weren’t sorted. This week after several revisions, and as many sleepless nights, i think we have a decent film in our hands. Actually a substantial film. This film, as one observer told us last night in a small but difficult preview session (!), was a film about unresolved histories. There is a politics of remembering and forgetting, a politics of creating and revising social memory. In Bangladesh there is a serious contestation about what can be, should be and allowed to be remembered about the war and about the “bihari” or urdu-speaking community. Maybe it is about time and distance.

Anyway I would like to introduce Khaled and Hassan of Geneva Camp, Mohammedpur, Dhaka. My good friends, brave souls, and participants and researchers for our documentary. More details, MP3s, video on the web site for the doc soon!


The stateless in Bangladesh

Sep 17,2007

Six decades, three countries…and only a dream of a promised land. Here are production shots from a forthcoming documentary about the bihari community. Shots by Anwar Hossain.
Adamjee Camp

Adamjee Rain

Adamjee Camp more rain

Adamjee train track

Vulgar Dhallywood Songs - part 1

Sep 11,2007

Ah yes my lifelong interest in all things prurient has led me here….So dear audience here below for your delectation is a phonetic transcription of a song that accompanies an incredibly vulgar dance sequence in a Dhallywood movie. For non-bangla readers, apologies….you are missing out on the outpourings of a young girl wedded to an old git whose “machinery” isn’t working….And did i say part 1? Well if you want more, you will have to wait for my Dhallywood book..


Here is a taster:

Dhally text

Shonar Bangla

Aug 29,2007

Programme cover

The National Museum of Asian Arts -Guimet in Paris is holding a major programme entitled “Shonar Bangla” ( golden Bangla) between September 2007 and January 2008. Here is the pdf of the entire programme. (1941kb in size).

It will be featuring two documentaries I have been involved in. I am a bit annoyed that they have got the production date of Bostrobalikara as 2006 and not 2007. I have some invites I believe and so if you want to go to any of the screenings (of any of the films) lemme know.

Jul 31,2007

still from documentary

This bizarre practice of finding spouses for Brit-Bangladeshi kids back in Bangladesh is explored in Simon Chamber’s documentary tonight at 10pm on channel SBS.  Synopsis here.

(How the heck do I get channel SBS? Anyone tape it for me?)

Buy Bostrobalikara DVD

Jul 2,2007

Whilst we wait for the DVD to be listed on Amazon, you can purchase directly here. Click the button in the About section.

Jesus Camp

May 15,2007

I was feeling guilty a couple of days ago about the backlog of work I have to do. Under these circumstances, its best to ignore the work entirely and build up the feeling of guilt to bursting point. Then - under the pressure of deadlines and potential humiliation - creativity flows. So I avoided my pile of work and went straight to John Lewis and bought an archos 604 wifi. It is a fantastic wee machine. I immediately transferred some films to it. Given my lifestyle currently it is the only way I can keep on top of some brilliant new films. I watched Jesus Camp on it. What an utterly brilliant documentary it is. The directors, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (below), have made a very sensitive and thoroughly researched film. The camera work is also outstanding. In case you have not heard about it, the documentary is about evangelical christians and their children. Frightening and disturbing, for me it brings home how similar fundamentalists are to each other…. whether they subscribe to christianity or to islam or to judaism or whatever. See the web site here.

Ewing and Grady

And talking about reactionaries, fingers crossed tonight for the archangel of reaction in the US - Paul Wolfowitz - to be given the boot.

May 6,2007

This is a sad story in this continuing saga: rehabilitated “biharis” from Bangladesh are being uprooted in Orangi (in Pakistan) by the town administration.

And as it happens I watched Amirul Arham’s Les Oublies Du Bangladesh today. It is a worthy effort though a little untidy. The footage needs better treatment but my goodness what footage at times!


  • Filed under: Cinema
May 2,2007

Shaheen Dill-Riaz’s new film premieres in Munich on 8th May. It is a feature length documentary film about the shipbreakers in Chittagong.


Bostrobalikara on TV

  • Filed under: Cinema
Apr 16,2007

The documentary on garment workers - Bostrobalikara: Garment Girls of Bangladesh will be shown on Bangla ATN on May 1st. Worker’s day! Make a date folks.

And to all those of you still waiting to receive your complimentary copy - I am sadly STILL WAITING for the barcodes to go on the covers….

Tajuddin Ahmad: Unsung Hero

Mar 23,2007

Tajuddin Ahmad

As the country prepares to commerate its anniversary in a few days, Tanvir Mokammel releases his new documentary (25th March, Shahbag Auditorium, 7pm for the public) about Tajuddin Ahmad, Bangladesh’s first prime minister. That official title reveals very little about Tajuddin, and the many intrigues of those fateful days in 1971 and 1975. Go along and see it if you are in Dhaka.

Titas madness

Mar 20,2007

Bangladesh’s largest gas field, Titas, is about to blow but there is not much hullabaloo about it. Maybe if we ignore it, the problem will go away?

And more madness in March with the release of Amazing Grace on 23rd - a film about William Wilberforce the ’social reformer’ and anti-slavery campaigner. What is mad about it? That people can get away with producing an abstracted indeed distorted and highly skewed take on the whole matter and then make money and careers out of it all. Read Peter Linebaugh’s trenchant critique of the thing HERE.

And anything but madness from Havi Carel writing about her medical death sentence. I have gone through the same emotions.  And she writes what I have said over and over to my family and friends:

The first rule I made for myself is never to ask “Why?” Never say, “if only”. Never think that things could have been different.

And though the loneliness is overwhelming, I desperately hope she is able to hold on to this in the years to come:

Illness breaks down the neutrality and transparency of our bodily existence. But it has also given me perspicuity. I observe my life and the lives of others and see them for what they are: brief, full of emotion and agony, activity and joy. I see people arguing over nothing, worrying about wrinkles and careers. Illness makes you immune to that. From the loneliness into which my illness forced me, I became able to see the world anew. My horizons and expectations shifted. I was made aware of the many healthy years I enjoyed. I cherish the things I can still do, like cycling along a canal in summer, the visceral joy of fresh smells and colours.

Feb 15,2007

Teardrops of Karnaphuli

If you live in New York and have not seen Tanvir Mokammel’s documentary “Teardrops of Karnaphuli” - you can catch it at the 2007 Arab and South Asian Film Festival. The CHT is a big blot on Bangladesh’s human rights landscape. And this documentary is particularly noteworthy because of the way it understands landscape as social history. Watch it please if you can.
You will soon be able to buy this DVD online….watch this space. If you belong to an NGO or Human rights forum or environmental network, and you wish to show this documentary, please get in touch.