We present the winners of the 15th Dhaka International Film Festival that took place from January 12th – 20th, 2017 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Best Children Film Badal Rahman Award
Pitong Kabang Palay (Seven Sacks of Rice) by Maricel C. Cariaga
Philippines | 2016 – 103 min.
On the rice fields of Isabela, the dela Cruz family lives a simple, frugal life, devoid of electricity or any luxury, making ends meet by planting rice and gathering what the season offers. The young Balong dreams of graduating and helping his parents, as he and his siblings witness the daily struggles their parents’ experience.As his mother Deling and father Jaime try to find ways to feed the family while supporting their studies, Balong and his brother Lito try to compensate by studying hard and earning honors at school.Dreaming of a better life, Balong counts the sacks of rice they have left, the money they need, and the little moments that led to an inevitable departure that will leave them all affected.
Best Audience Award
Sonar Baran Pakhi (The Golden Wing) by Bobby Sarma Baruah – India | 2016 – 86 min.
Popularly nicknamed Hastir Kanya (daughter of elephants), Pratima Baruah was born in the royal family of Gauripur in present day Dhubri district of Assam adjoining West Bengal in India. Legendary filmmaker Pramathesh Chandra Baruah was her uncle. It was her father Prakitish Chandra Baruah alias Lalji who gave her the strength to fight all odds that came her way. As a child, as she accompanied her father in many a elephant hunting expedition, she remained close to the mahouts and learnt their unique ways of singing. However other royal family members disapproved of the young girl humming rustic ballads, many of them warning her that nobody would marry her if she continued to practice the lokageets. Thoroughly captivated by the lilting notes that resonated in the air around her, also mastered other forms of folk songs and was brought to the tinsel world by none other than filmmaker Dr. Bhupen. That was the beginning. The rest is history. Her innocent nature, a down-to-earth personality, was in the hearts of the common people.
Spiritual Section: Interfaith Jury for Spiritual Films
Qirmizi Bagh (Red Garden) by Mirbala Salimli – Russia, Azerbaijan | 2016 – 88 min.
The film tells the story of a provincial teacher from blue blood, ABBAS. The desperate desire of having his own son makes him so indifferent to orphan in his custody and even to deadlock situation of his beloved spouse VAFA. But everything changes, when he himself causes Vafa‟s death. Now in the otherworld Abbas is craving to have back all the things that he couldn‟t protect in this world.
Lal Char (The Red Sand) by Nader Chowdhury – Bangladesh | 2015 – 93 min.
Osman is sitting in the front yard of his home which is at the bank of the river. The river came closer before the rainy season ended. One day the land rises from underneath the river-a huge river bank, which was first seen by Ratan-Osman’s grandson. Ratan is taking care of the entire family in the absence of his father Nader, who left the village after a robbery. He also has a dream; a dream of marrying Sakhina-the girl he’s in love with and make the family a bit bigger. But the dreams can never come true until Talukder remains alive. After the river grasp, as Talukder claims that he owns all the land rose next to the river. Finally, the never ending-blood shedding battle of taking over lands starts with the cost of Nader’s life.
Best Documentary Film
Islands of the Monks by Anne Christiane Girardot – Netherlands | 2015 – 70 min.
The monastery of Sion, in the Netherlands, has room for 120 monks. But in 2013 there were only eight monks left. They started to think of moving, make a new beginning somewhere else and hopefully attract new men to join their community. And so the idea was born of returning to the island in the north of Holland that bears their name: Schiermonnikoog, that means Island of the Grey Monks. But moving isn’t that easy. These men of prayer were confronted by inner and outer turmoil, doubts and fears. They had to answer the questions: What makes someone a monk and why are they here?
La Sedia Di Cartone (The Special Chair) by Marco Zuin – Italy | 2015 – 16 min.
Jeoffrey is an African baby affected by Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. He does not move, he is not able to support the head and communicates his needs by attracting attention with mourning or smiles. Jeoffrey spends his days on the couch, lying on it or sitting in the corner in a kind of nest made out of blankets by his mother. His disease will not allow him to achieve any degree of autonomy. For this reason having a good appliance becomes very important in order to maintain a correct posture, thus avoiding the onset of other deformations and enabling Jeoffrey to participate in social life of his family. He needs a specific aid, but how could one provide it in a Kenyan’s rural area where they lack basic services? “The Special Chair” answers this question with a unique experience.
Best Short Film
The Cemetery Men by Ali Mardomi – Iran | 2015 – 30 min.
An old man scrapes out a living by working in a small cemetery on the outskirts of the city. He is the only one there who says prayers for the dead of families in mourning until a younger man comes to shatter his quiet life.
Women Filmmakers Section
Nahid by Ida Panahandeh – Iran | 2015 – 105 min.
A young divorcee living with her son in a small northern city of Iran, wants to marry the man she has fallen in love with. According to the current rules, the father has the custody of children; however, her ex-husband has granted her that right on the condition that she doesn’t remarry. Struggling to keep both of her beloved ones, she has to think about the third option: Temporary Marriage (Sighe). However, this will get her into a predicament, as despite its being legal, Sighe is not well-received by the society at all. Would temporary marriage be a good solution for her?
Until I Lose My Breath by Emine Emel Balci – Turkey, Germany | 2015 – 94 min.
Serap is a quite but hot-headed adolescent who is working long hours in a cramped clothing workshop as a runner. Fed up with her abusive brother-in-law and detached sister; the only thing that keeps Serap going is the hope of moving into an apartment with her father who is a long distance truck driver. Since the father is quite indifferent to Serap’s wishes, however, she decides to take matters in her own hands.
Semele by Myrsini Aristidou – Cyprus | 2015 – 13 min.
Semele will do anything to spend some time with her long absent father. A school note becomes just the excuse for her to visit him at his workplace, where her presence highlights their fragile relationship.
Chandra by Fateme Ahmadi and Asmita Shrish – Iran, Nepal | 2015 – 15 min.
Seven-year-old Chandra and his elderly grandfather have to travel on foot through earthquake-hit Kathmandu in order to get to hospital, where Chandra’s mother has just given birth. Chandra is oblivious to the scenes of misery on the streets, and is fascinated by the many curious and beautiful sights, and excited about meeting his new sibling. Grandfather, who knows the sheer scope of destruction, attempts to protect Chandra from the grim reality of it all, while gradually coming to terms with the fact that the city is no longer the same, and that the hospital may not even stand. What awaits them at the end of their journey? Will it be a newborn baby, or bad news?
Jonmo Sathi (Born Together) by Shabnam Ferdous – Bangladesh | 2016 – 85 min.
It was 1972. Bangladesh just had her independence. Shabnam (myself) was born at Holy Family Hospital, Dhaka and 12 more babies were born in that hospital on that very day. Later, I came to know five of them were war babies. Then an idea stuck me that I could have been one of the war babies. I got obsessed with the idea and began a new journey … a journey in search of my birth-mates.I tried to explore their lives. In doing so, I came face to face with colossal questions. The documentary Born Together tends to deal with these queries.
El Tiempo Suspendido (Suspended Time) by Natalia Bruschtein
Argentina, Mexico | 2015 – 64 min.
This documentary is about memory, the memory of a woman that has fought tirelessly against historical amnesia and for the justice of the crimes of state in Argentina. Today this woman has lost her memory, liberating her from the pain; she bids farewell to this life without betraying the family she once lost.
Short and Independent Films
Yaman by Amer-Al-Barzawi – Syria | 2016 – 4 min.
Aman is a young inventor. His greatest invention is an incredible machine which can turns tissues into incredible ones, an invention that helps him survive.
Appooppanthaadi by Sivaprasad K.V – India | 2016 – 26 min.
Appooppanthaadi (Floating Milkweeds), a sweet reminiscent tale of ‘loss’ begins when a gang of friends meet up on a Maundy Thursday to booze on ’Memories’ (a fictional liquor brand). As they go on with boozing and playing cards, they stumble upon an old memory, which sets them on a journey across the land. The journey and the incidents that follow sets the plot of the film. It progresses through the power of old memories and of long lost happiness which come back to us, after a point in our lives as we age.
Parallel Journey by Tarek Aziz Nishok – Bangladesh | 2016 – 11 min.
A homeless child fancies a red pair of shoes. Her brother is determined to enough to find one fine pair… a pair of happiness. It is a journey which the siblings make while chasing a dream, meeting a wings-less only to rise from the ashes, solely to learn life is a mime.
A Political Life by Soe Arkar Htun – Myanmar | 2015 – 20 min.
U Thein Soe dedicated the best years of his life to working as Aung San Suu Kyi’s bodyguard. To please his longsuffering wife and family he has now bowed out of politics – but still can’t help giving up his time to provide local people with valuable legal advice.
Bhagyale Bachekaharu (Nepal Earthquake: Heroes, Survivors and Miracles) by Ganesh Panday
Nepal | 2016 – 46 min.
In 2015 two devastating earthquake struck Nepal. Ganesh Panday has created a documentary depicting miraculous survivals of those who escaped death. The film is a historical document that vividly portrays the horrifying picture of the devastating situation in Nepal caused by April Earthquake and the scars (both physical and psychological) left on the Nepalese people.
Competition of the Asian Film Section
The Dark Wind by Hussein Hassan – Iraq, Germany, Qatar | 2016 – 92 min.
After the engagement of Reko and Pero, the Islamic State attacks their village in Sinjar, Southern Kurdistan. At this moment Reko is working in another town. Some of the villagers can flee; others are taken captive or get murdered. The terrorists sell Pero and other young girls on a slave market. The nightmare continues and the question remains: Will true love overcome “The Dark Wind”?
Cevahir Sahin and Kursat Uresin for Cold of Kalandar (Kalandar Sogugu)
by Mustafa Kara – Turkey | 2016 – 134 min.
Saeed Roostaee for Life and a Day by Saeed Roostaee – Iran | 2016 – 115 min.
Somayeh is at a loss. Her only desire is to leave her family and take her destiny in hand, yet the love of her sick mother and exceptionally bright brother holds her back. One day her elder brother, Morteza, introduces her to an Afghan who wants to marry her and take her to Afghanistan.Despite herself, but moved by her brother’s concern, she accepts the offer, seeing it as primarily a means of escaping her family. And then, at the very last minute, she discovers the hidden face of the marriage proposal.
Soner Caner for Rauf by Baris Kaya and Soner Caner – Tukey | 2015 – 94 min.
RAUF; is the story of the 9 year old Rauf, living in a rural village under the shadow of an invisible endless war, who embarks on a journey to find the colour pink for the the girl he loves – who happens to be the 20 year old daughter of the carpenter to whom he is an apprentice. For him, pink is the colour of the love in his dreams, of the courage to hope, of the peace he never saw. The quest for pink starts with his desire to make her smile. But his experiences in a grey world would teach him the black and the white.
Maisa Abd Elhadi (Palestinian) for her role in 3000 Nights by Mai Masri
Palestine,Lebanon | 2015 – 103 min.
A young Palestinian schoolteacher gives birth to her son in an Israeli prison where she fights to protect him, survive and maintain hope.
Farhad Aslani for his role in Daughter by Reza Mirkarim – Iran | 2016 – 103 min.
The strict and traditional Mr Azizi leads an uneventful family life in an oil town of southern Iran. Then one day, exasperated by her father’s authoritarianism, Setareh announces she is off to Tehran to say farewell to one of her best friends who is leaving Iran for good. Unfortunately, the engagement celebrations of Setareh’s younger sister are taking place simultaneously. Despite her father’s objections, Setareh takes the plane for Tehran. This act of disobedience sets in motion a series of perturbations that upset the calm tranquility of the paterfamilias.
Parviz Shahbazi for Malaria – Iran | 2015 – 90 min.
A young girl informs her father she’s been kidnapped and asks him to bring the ransom money. Panicked, her father and brothers go to Tehran to look for her. They are unaware, however, that the girl has in fact eloped with her boyfriend and now spends her time in the company of a band of street musicians. Following the arrest of the band leader and full of the love for her boyfriend, the young girl descends an uncertain path.
Daughter by Reza Mirkarim – Iran | 2016 – 103 min.
Oggatonama (The Unnamed) by Tauquir Ahmed – Bangladesh | 2016 – 92 min.
Oggatonama (the unnamed) is a film about local Life, Love and Hope while portraying a strong message of global Humanity. The central character, a poor farmer from a remote Bangladeshi village facing challenges at every steps of this storyline, sometime from the bureaucracy, sometime from his peers and finally from the traditional mindset after receiving the dead body of an ‘Oggatonama’ – The Unnamed. Circumstances challenged him to face a situation involved the death news of his son who was an expatriate, working in the Middle East as an unskilled labor. The story portrays a typical Bangladeshi village, its inhabitants and economic strength through export of manpower but a lot of these exports involves illegal human trafficking, mistrust and broken hopes. The concluding shot tells it all, when a mourning father buries the dead body of the ‘Oggatonama’ (unnamed) with appropriate respect in his own land without even knowing whose dead body is that!