a juror for the south asian film festival of montreal

this fall, i was honored to be one of the jurors for the south asian film festival of montreal, and i got to see some powerful documentaries. one of them is called ‘the ice cream sellers’ by bangladeshi filmmaker sohel rahman. it follows two children in a rohingya refugee camp in bangladesh, and tells the stories of many of its uprooted residents. the opening shots create this sharp contrast between the stunning beauty of the fields and hills in bangladesh and the destitution of people who have witnessed hideous violence. the film’s cinematography is beautiful. its quiet, long shots allow us to take in the immensity of the situation. it’s not manipulative, with no music or fancy editing. rather it’s a sobering ethnographic portrait of royingya refugees. the film is raw, truthful, moving.

the little boy, ayas, at the center of the film (the ice cream seller), seems much older than his years. there is a sadness and anger in him. he and asia, his sister, are deeply traumatized by what they have experienced and by the absence of their father. genocide does not just affect those who are exterminated, it produces ongoing generational trauma.

the festival ends on november 28th so there are still a few days left to watch a large number of new films, many of them for free. google south asian film festival of montreal.

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