Kamar Ahmad Simon may not be the most recognizable name to the average Bangladeshi film audience, but his international portfolio is quite stunning, with awards and recognition at some of the world's biggest film festivals – including Cannes, Berlinale and Locarno. The Bangladeshi director, best-known for his multi-award winning documentary “Shunte Ki Pao! (Are You Listening!)”, has scored his second Production Funding of the World Cinema Fund (WCF), the prestigious funding at the Berlin International Film Festival commonly known as Berlinale.
The funding was awarded for his film “Shikolbaha” (English title “Iron Stream”). The announcement came from the official Berlinale web site, adding that the 40,000 Euro funding was one of the five film projects, the other films being from Palestine, Brazil, Afghanistan and Uruguay.
Kamar had won the WCF last year as well, for the same script which was then titled “Shonkhodhoni” (“Silence of the Seashell”), but he did not access the funding because he did not agree to a time-frame clause on the agreement. “It was a big decision on my part, but as an independent filmmaker I could not agree to that clause, so I decided to re-apply this year as well, and it is very assuring to have received the funding again,” Kamar told The Daily Star. The director also informed that the first draft script was written in 2012, which it went on to win a production funding at Sweden's Göteborg Film Festival that year. He has re-written the draft a few times now, and in 2014 it was one of the 10 scripts invited in La Fabrique Cinema du Monde at Cannes Film Festival, an exclusive programme fostering promising directors from around the world (under the title of “Shonkhodhoni”). The film also won the national film grant by the Government of Bangladesh in 2016.
Kamar has been looking for new actors for the film who are not known television or film faces, and opened a casting call on Facebook in March this year. Asked what stage the production is, Kamar said: “The film is in the pre pre-production stage. I still haven't found all the central cast members, and one of the two major locations I need for the story. I had hoped to go into pre-production next month, but it looks unlikely as of now.”
Produced by Sara Afreen under the banner of Beginning Productions and Germany's Weydemann Bros, “Shonkhodhoni” is said to be a film that depicts the journey of two young friends who become lost, in search of a river.