Director Kamar Ahmad Simon and producer Sara Afreen have come out with the most talked about production this year, 'Are You Listening!' or 'Shunte Ki Pao!', which was locally released at Star Cineplex on February 21 this year, and is currently running. Receiving praise from both local and international critics as a creative documentary, Kamar Ahmad Simon and Sara Afreen are more comfortable calling it just a 'Cinema'. It can be compared to Dziga Vertov's 'Man with a Movie Camera'. The filmmakers follow, with their camera, Aila affected Rakhi, Soumen, and Rahul. The always vibrant Kamar Ahmad Simon and Sara Afreen's effort and dedication towards the making of the film was clear during their conversation with Star Showbiz. The conversation ranged from the production of the movie to the condition of Bangladesh film industry.
REACHING OUT WITH 'SHUNTE KI PAO!'
We plan to take to the movie to different areas of Bangladesh. Our first method is to screen the movie in collaboration with film clubs of educational institutes. But, there is a catch; it will not be free. We are willing to except the least amount but we will share the sales profit. Half the amount will go to all the film clubs who will be collaborating with us. The second method will be like Tareque Masud's 'Project Runway'. We will conduct a package tour – we will move around in different location with our movie. Logistics and screening – technical issues will be completely controlled by us. It will be screened with a High Definition 2K projector. We have already completed out tour in northern and southern districts. We've done our recce and decided where and how to screen the movie.
FICTION OR DOCUMENTARY?
We are really enjoying the debate going on among the audience about whether it is a fiction or documentary. When we were filming, we didn't follow any film-text or grammar – we didn't want to impose anything that went in front our camera. We made a cinema that has all the human emotions, that's it! We don't want to categorize our production. If you force me call it something, I would say it is a 'Cinema'. We have applied both documentary and fiction techniques in the film.
COLORING 'SHUNTE KI PAO!'
Viewers will find a different and unusual color scheme in the movie. We didn't have much budget, rather than spending big bucks on expensive color grading we decided to give the movie a watery-muddy look, which I feel works well and gives the movie a metaphoric look and connects to the storyline.
It started with the director of 'Dok Leipzig', one of the most renowned documentary film festivals in the world. While we were shooting, he saw of our footage and emailed us his interest to have it as the curtain opener of 55th 'Dok Leipzig'. Most of renowned people of the film fraternity were present at the World Premiere at Leipzig. This really opened the doors to more attention around the world.
PROMOTING BANGLADESHI PRODUCTIONS
Don't get us wrong; we are all up for international competition. But there must be a regulation to encourage exhibitors to screen local productions – it can come through tax regulations. The recent and improvement of Kolkata film is due to the regulations on categorizing films with different taxation policy. Our policymakers must also take demographics of cinemagoers into consideration. Most still thinks that the primetime of screening film is at evening (6pm-9pm). But research says afternoon (12pm-4pm) is the primetime. To be honest, our cinemagoers are mostly youths who watch films after or between classes. Just come to numbers game – the size of this population is huge.
BUREAUCRACY AND CINEMA HALL DEBATE
Out of many issues that are pulling back our film industry are bureaucratic hassles and the condition of cinema halls. Producers and directors union is full of powerful people. It is not easy to get a movie through the unions. Distribution can get real hard if the groups are not happy with the directors. It is true that many cinema halls are shutting down, but it is also true that there are new halls popping up. Forget about the old ones, even the new cinema halls are not up to the mark to screen a quality production. Even the new hall at Star Cineplex is too long for a perfect view. If a movie doesn't do well, all the blame goes to the film makers. Our audience also must understand that all elements must click to make a movie a success – even the way it is being projected.
ACCOLADES & RECOGNITIONS 2014 - Golden Conch' for Best Feature, Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF)
2014 - Best Cinematography, Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF)
2013 - 'Grand PRIX' for Best Film, 35th Cinéma du Réel, Paris
2013 - Jury AWARD, Film South Asia
2013 - Grant AWARD, Movies that Matter
2011 - Best Picth, Docedge Kolkata: Asian Forum for Documentaries
2011 - Grant AWARD, Visions Sud Est from Switzerland
2010 - Grant AWARD, Jan Vrijman Fund from IDFA twice (Development and Production)
The movie in the 'Official Selection' of 25th IDFA, Netherlands, the largest documentary of the world and also 'Curtain-Opener' of 55th Dok-Leipzig in Germany, the oldest documentary festival of the world.