Acclaimed Bangladeshi director Rubaiyat Hossain, known for her powerful women-centric films, has a new project participating in the Berlinale Co-Production Market and is launching a Female Filmmaker Fellowship.
Her Berlinale co-production market project, “The Difficult Bride,” follows Novera, a bride-to-be from present-day Dhaka who is in love with the groom and the idea of a fairytale wedding, but struggles secretly with her body, which does not seem to conform to the wedding rituals. She makes continuous trips to the beauty salon and uses home remedies to “heal” her body. As stress, anxiety, and emotional pain take root in her, a mysterious woman with long hair begins to visit Novera in her imagination.
Directed and written by Hossain, Aadnan Imtiaz Ahmed produces for Khona Talkies. A third of the $876,000 budget was raised from Bangladeshi entities and the project hopes to attract other financiers, a commercial agent, technical team leaders from departments and European post-production packages to Berlin.
Meanwhile, kicking off on February 18 is Sultana’s Dream, a funding and mentoring grant to empower, promote and support the next generation of female filmmakers and storytellers in Bangladesh, named after a 1902 novel by Begaum Rokeya, pioneer of women’s education in South Asia. Breaking the Silence, a short film grant competition, is part of the initiative.
For its pilot project, the program has selected a cohort of 16 emerging filmmakers who will receive basic filmmaking training in all disciplines and guidance in preparing project briefs and pitches through March, followed by leadership workshops, scriptwriting modules and study circles encompassing feminist cinema. history, the female gaze and the gendered reading of film texts from April to June. Participants will have the opportunity to pitch their short film scripts to a panel of international jury members in July, from which two projects will be awarded grants. August and September will be dedicated to pre-production, October production, November post-production and the films are expected to be ready by December 2022. Production support and mentoring will be provided during production and films will be distributed locally and internationally.
Tutors include Hossain, writers Philippe Barrière and Tasmiah Afrin Mou, and production designer and producer Jonaki Bhattacharya.
Upon successful completion of the mentorship pilot program, Sultana’s Dream aims to continue the grant to produce more films by Bangladeshi women.
Hossain’s films have traveled the world and won awards. “Meherjaan” (2011) won laurels at festivals in Abuja, Long Island, New Jersey, Northampton and Philadelphia, “Under Construction” (2015) won the Vesoul Asian Film Festival and won at Dhaka, Cine bajo la Luna and Salamindanaw, while ‘Made in Bangladesh’ (2019) played in Toronto, swept Amiens and won Turin and Tromsø.
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