Through Her Eyes
Discussing films with women filmmakers
Goethe-Institut Bangladesh, in cooperation with the International Film Initiative of Bangladesh (IFIB), will jointly organise a film screening and discussion series "Through Her Eyes - A Space to Watch and Discuss Films with Women Filmmakers of Bangladesh" on April 18 at 5pm at its auditorium.
Like the previous editions of "Through Her Eyes" series, there will be a question and answer session with the director of the film, Humaira Bilkis after the screening.
The film's name is Garden of Memories---which has been directed by Humaira Bilkis. The film has a length of 66 minutes and it has been made in the genre of creative documentary. The film was produced in 2018.
This story is about a tea community's mundane life where old chieftain Padmoluv, awaits his death and often reminisces the past controlled by colonial masters. Young worker Sojoy, feels trapped but continues the grind. However, School drop-out Chandan wants to elude the exploitation. Every plant in the garden is a mute witness to the unsaid stories of their lives. In death, struggle and escape, these characters become archetype of an entrapped tea garden worker in Bangladesh.
A large population of men and women were transported by their British masters from various corners of colonial India and brought to Bangladesh to work as tea labourers. The tea industry is organized within the framework of colonial rules which has remained unchanged till date. The labourers are subject to the panoptic surveillance of the master. No school has been established in the vicinity although there are enough liquor stores that drain off the workers' meager salary of a dollar per day. This is the key arrangement to which this community has succumbed over generations, never managing to escape the fate of a worker.
I spent a long time in a remote tea garden, falling in love with their non-dramatic, slow paced life. As a filmmaker, I tried a deductive method to get close to them. They have a strange economy, ecosystem and philosophy of a minimalist life which is necessitated by a system built by outsiders as a result of hundreds of years of subjugation. Thus, a planned labour class has been created which remains unconscious about their basic rights. Instead of a dissection of the exploitative system, I wanted to take the lens close to the lives of my characters, to see inside; inside their homes and personal space, inside their heads and hearts.
Humaira Bilkis is a Dhaka based documentary filmmaker. She is trained in creative documentary filmmaking from Sri Aurobindo Center for Arts and Communication, Delhi. Her student films have been screened internationally. Her student diploma documentary "I Am Yet to See Delhi" has achieved a special mention by jury at New Asian Currents in Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Japan, 2015. Recently she completed her first film titled "Garden of Memories" based on her long-term relationship with the migrated tea plantation workers of north-east Bangladesh. The film went to media library in the prestigious Visions Du Reel, Neon, 2018 and has been selected in Doc for Sale IDFA. Her interest in filmmaking is anthropocentric and she is interested in finding fictional qualities in a non-fiction genre by using creative treatment of actuality. Her films are usually personal, reflexive and embrace the organic interactions and flow of characters. Bilkis has a background in Mass communication and Journalism. Her early forays into documentary filmmaking are informed with a reading of media and culture. Her writings on representation of minor voices in media such as religious groups, labour class have been widely published. She has also taught at the media and communication department at a university for three years. In addition, she has worked in international documentaries as an associate producer. Currently, she is working on her documentary "Bilkis and Bilkis", based on her relationship with her mother in the changing context of Bangladeshi society.
Filmography of Director and Producer, Humaira Bilkis: I am yet to see Delhi (2015, 20 min), A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peace Keepers (2015, 1hr 35 min) [Associate Producer], Garden of Memories (2018, 66 min), Bilkis and Bilkis (Development Stage),
About the initiative: "Through Her Eyes"
Women have been making films from the beginning of film production history. In Bangladesh, currently a number of women filmmakers are actively creating and working in all genres of filmmaking. However, it still remains a challenge for a woman to be a director and continue to create a body of work. Worldwide, relatively few women can carve out that opportunity for themselves.
'Through Her Eyes' gives film enthusiasts, film students, academics, film professionals, funding agencies, broadcasters, rights groups and journalists a regular opportunity to watch films by women filmmakers currently working in Bangladesh and to interact with them directly at the end of the screening.