If the standing ovation Rehana Maryam Noor received at the 74th Cannes Film Festival following its screening there in the Un Certain Regard section, there is every possibility of winning an award for the film. Even if this hot contender does not make it to the list of the award winners, its inclusion in the top 18 (or 20?) films in this particular category out of hundreds is an extraordinary achievement by itself for a writer-director, Abdullah Mohammad Saad, of whom this is the second such venture after his debut feature film Live from Dhaka. Notably, his directorial debut film won 'best actor' and 'best director' awards at the Singapore International Film Festival.
Now, why is this an achievement extraordinaire? In English translation, 'Un Certain Regard' means 'from another angle'. So, here is a category that is remarkable for unusual styles and non-traditional stories. Unlike the popular and commercial feature films, these films are off-track and deal with complex issues or even ordinary subjects in the light of a perspective where the deep meaning is unravelled layer by layer to show the inner values eluding most observers.
It is a difficult journey for a writer or director of a film to present the hidden truth, the reality beyond the apparent because appearances may be deceptive. As the name of the category in which Saad's Rehana Maryam Noor has been included suggests, it is an endorsement of a filmmaker of a different kind ---one who sees life from a different perspective in order to unravel the hidden truth, the reality within.
No other Bangladeshi film, except Tareque Masud's Matir Moyna (The Clay Bird) has ever represented the country in any of the official segments of either of the three most prestigious film festivals: The Cannes Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival and the Berlin Film Festival. Internationally-famed Masud's film was screened in the Editor's Fortnight section in 2002 and it won the Fipresci prize.
This time Saad is also not included in the main competition category. However, his is a feat extraordinaire because no other film from Bangladesh was invited to this category earlier. In this section, there are awards like Jury Prize, Special Jury Prize, Special Distinction Prize, awards for best actor, best performance, best screenplay etc; for which Saad's Rehan Maryam Noor will compete.
If awarded, it will take Bangladesh films many leagues ahead by a single pull, for it will confirm recognition of filmmaking talents of global order in this country. The young filmmaker has already made the country proud by his achievement so far. If he receives an award, it will not only be an addition of a feather to his cap but also a rude awakening to the film industry's mafias who are lording over it with no talent and filmmaking skills. The bizarre, uncouth and pedestrian films produced at the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation have already invited the industry's traumatic disintegration.
On this count, Saad's film will act as a beacon for many more young talents who are given a cold shoulder. When these young filmmakers go for innovative and experimental genres of films, they do not receive patronage. With limited budgets they have to struggle all the way for finishing their works. Even if they somehow complete a film, their films are not shown in cinema halls and thus they cannot reach the larger audience. This is how, there is little opportunity for spectators' taste for good films. At the time of the last Eid-ul-Fitr, a couple of very good films by young filmmakers were scheduled for screening but they could not release those in cinema halls because big budget trash films captured movie theatres.
Let young filmmaking talents like Saad be nurtured in order to come up with films that will bag the best prizes from the renowned film festivals the world over. Only then will people develop a taste for good films and by way of this a desirable cultural transition will take place on this front.