It was a privilege to attend some films at this year’s festival. I will be sharing my writing about a few here.
Rubaiyat Hossain | 87 min | Bangladesh | Fiction
This film is a striking mix of life and theatre, the meeting of different classes, the common ground and the clashes of tradition and modernity. Set in Dhaka with the cityscape, the traffic jams and high-rise apartments as characters in themselves, it explores relationships, from the complexity of the familial, focusing on mother-daughter and husband-wife to that of the high-class woman and her maid. It explores a woman’s need to feed her creative self and pursue an acting career challenged by the pressure to adhere to gender norms. The metaphor of a building under construction that grows as the film progresses, her husband the big business man, who designs those buildings next to the workers who bring them to life. Dreamscapes that sit next to the harshness of the outer world. This film doesn’t just skim over class differentials, but examines them thoughtfully, without washing over complexity. The boys approaching the protagonist’s car in order to sell flowers, a working mother alone and making ends meet next to a daughter who has financial security through her husband. The generation gap and the clashes in identities of a mother who does it all on her own and advocates for the traditional family and a daughter who is economically dependent on her spouse but free to pursue her desired creative work. The deconstruction of a character on stage that is not relatable and how she is pulled into modern times. The clash between those that want to hang onto tradition as something stagnant and unchangeable and the push for change, for re-writing the narrative in the face of modernity. This film does not try and put a shiny finish on the realities of underprivileged lives but does not shy away from them either, gazing at them long enough for an audience to engage with those scenes and be drawn into their realities.