Tuesday, December 6

Bangladeshi film bags historic first selection at Cannes festival

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‘Rehana Maryam Noor’ – a Bengali film from Bangladesh – has been selected in its prestigious Un Certain Regard section of the 74th Cannes Film Festival. Penned and edited by Abdullah Mohammad Saad, this is the first Bangladeshi film to have been officially selected at the prestigious festival.
This film, the second feature directed by Saad after ‘Live From Dhaka’, revolves around the life of Rehana. She is a 37-year-old assistant professor in a private medical college and juggles the complex roles of a teacher, doctor, sister, daughter and mother. Her life starts to spiral out of control when she witnesses a female student storm out of a professor’s office in tears. Meanwhile, she receives a complaint about aggressive behaviour against her six-year-old daughter. Finally, Rehana single-handedly wages a fight for justice on behalf of her six-year-old daughter and one of her students.
Playing the role of Rehana is Azmeri Haque Badhon. Incidentally, Azmeri was in Kolkata early this year to shoot for Srijit Mukherji’s web series titled ‘Robindronath Ekhane Kawkhono Khete Aashenni’. Speaking from Dhaka, Azmeri described this selection as “memorable” and a matter of “pride” for her team and country. According to her, playing Rehana was possible because of her director’s efforts. “He understood that I would be able to express Rehana’s complexities because I too struggled a lot in life. I had auditioned for this role in 2018. For two months, I was kept under observation by the director to understand if I was the right fit for the role. Subsequently, I had to do a rehearsal for nine months,” she said. During the 34 days of shooting, Azmeri stayed in the women’s hostel of Eastern Medical College of Kumilya. “I am thrilled to receive this exciting news during the pandemic,” added Azmeri, eagerly waiting to fly to Cannes where the festival will be held between July 6 and July 17.

Meanwhile, Mukherji had described Azmeri as “hardworking and dedicated”. “The last Bengali film to have made it to this section was Sandip Ray’s ‘Uttoran’ that was based on a screenplay by Satyajit Ray. That was in 1994. In 1988, Goutam Ghose’s ‘Antarjali Jatra’ was screened in the same section. From Bangladesh, Tareque Masud’s ‘Matir Moyna’ was screened at the Director’s Fortnight segment in 2002. Currently, the focus is on cinema from countries that have usually not been highlighted in international film festivals. In that context, this selection is a great achievement for Bangladesh,” Mukherji said.

Piplu Khan, the director of ‘A Daughter’s Tale’ that’s based on the life of Sheikh Hasina, said this selection is “significant for a country celebrating 50 years of independence”. “This is a shout-out to the establishment too. Saad is face of new generation of filmmakers. This news will inspire many independent filmmakers,” he said.

Source: Times of India

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