Our ConnectHER Fellows program identifies past ConnectHER filmmakers and helps develop those young leaders to teach filmmaking to youth in their communities.
Lives in: Bangladesh
What did you study in school?
What’s a movie, filmmaker or film style you admire?
Both Independent and commercial!
How did you first hear about ConnectHer?
The website and social platforms (Facebook).
How did you feel submitting your first film to #CHFF?
It was a really interesting topic at the time for me. I was only 19 years old then. I was very excited and thrilled with my first submission and was eagerly awaiting the final announcement of the festival.
Describe the film(s) you submitted to ConnectHER.
So far I submitted four films to the ConnectHER film festival:
In Bangladesh, child marriage is a strong social custom and has the fourth highest rate of child marriages in the world.
In Bangladesh, girls are frequently considered to be burdens to their families. Due to the cultural setting, it’s believed that they don’t have worth like the boys. So, they have no rights in choosing their futures or destinations. Especially in the sporting sector, girls are not accepted due to negative social and religious restrictions. But in this short film, an 18-year-old girl, Ms. Mabia Akhter Shimanto, has broken down this barrier by choosing to do weightlifting — making her the first gold medalist winner of Bangladesh in the South Asian region.
Bangladesh’s sociology and religious environment always stand on gender discrimination. Sports are quite forbidden for women and are treated as a violation of Muslim religious rules.
In “Be Bold & Win the Dream,” a group of girls breaks with tradition to form a soccer team in a conservative village in Bangladesh. The dream of competing nationally gives the girls a goal — and provides a powerful incentive to resist pressure to marry young.
Bangladesh’s sociology and cultural environment always stands on gender discrimination. Female empowerment is still a dream from generation to generation. In this story, we follow Ms. Rahela Begum: a 22-year-old single mother who became a female rickshaw-puller, breaking traditional gender roles while supporting her two children when her husband left her. Muslim-majority Bangladesh is one of Asia’s most conservative societies where the concept of a woman doing such a job was unheard of before Rahela hit the road three years ago in the capital city, Dhaka. Barring all senseless conventions and stereotypes from consideration, Rahela is surely giving everyone in the subcontinent women empowerment goals.
Why did you join the Fellowship?
As a 25-year-old woman, I know the real condition of the girls and women in my country. Through filmmaking, we can easily show real-life portraits of our women. That's why I joined the fellowship: My main intention is to teach young, girl filmmakers so they can tell the stories of girls and women because the language of film is universal; a single image is more powerful than a million words.
Which classes did you teach in the Fellowship?
To be honest, I'm still in the learning process. When I get a chance to work with a seasoned filmmaker, I don't miss it. Which helps to increase my film knowledge and keep up with modern filmmaking technologies. Personally, I love researching, script-writing and directing, as well as set design. In the workshop, I mainly teach how to do the research, production planning, shooting scripts and direction. Other technical areas like photography, sound and editing are taught by invited experts.
What have you learned from the Fellowship or your participants?
When I make my personal films, I am everything. But when I am a teacher or trainer, it’s completely different. Every step of life is a learning process. My participants are around the same age as me so our interactions are usually very friendly. When I show my films as teaching material in workshops, they also find some flaws and shortcomings in my films which is really interesting and helpful to know. They ask different kinds of questions and topics that I would never think of.
Was there anything difficult about moving from filmmaker to film instructor?
That’s a difficult and relative question! Sometimes it becomes difficult to tell how a filmmaker can overcome difficult situations while making a film. Because it is never possible to record the feelings of that particular time. It is always a difficult task to accurately convey your thoughts and ideas to someone as each person's perspective and perception is different. But I try my best to make my delivery very simple and nominal.
What do you think is the impact of the Fellowship workshops?
The impact of the workshop depends on some parameters. At the beginning of the workshop, the participants show more interest, but when they go to the field to make films they usually face many compelling problems and obstacles — especially when dealing with girls' and women's issues due to Bangladesh’s conservative, Muslim society. Sometimes this can lead to a loss of interest. Another challenge is budgeting. I try my best to provide them with some basic technical support like shooting, editing services, etc. but that's why we don't get a good number of films from the participants after each workshop. I think the Fellowship is showing that these obstacles can be overcome, making more resources and knowledge accessible, and showing how feasible they are or can be.
The most positive impact is that now many young girls are interested in film-making because of the workshop, and I hope that some good films will come out of Bangladesh in the future!