Directors recommend what to watch as we stay at home
For those of us who are fortunate enough to be healthy and stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic, the possibilities of entertainment can feel both extremely limited and overwhelmingly endless. Luckily, directors themselves are likewise confined to their homes, which makes them readily available to offer some guidance on what to watch.
According to Amitabh Reza Chowdhury, MUBI, which is available upon subscription, is the best streaming platform at the moment. MUBI premieres critically acclaimed and handpicked films daily. "I would highly recommend this site to anyone who wants to watch masterful art house cinema," says the director of Aynabaji. "The Criterion Channel is another archive of great films, but it is only available in the American app store." For Netflix subscribers, he suggests the mini-series Unbelievable, the drama film Roma, the Indian black comedy film Newton, the Russian series Trotsky and the dark and suspenseful series Freud. "On Amazon Prime, the historical drama series The Forgotten Army is really good," adds Chowdhury. He further recommends the Malayalam movie Jallikattu, which is also available on Amazon Prime.
Noted director and screenwriter Ashfaque Nipun, a film and television buff himself, enjoys political and thriller stories. "I would recommend the Spanish movie (Ell Hoyo) The Platform, available on Netflix. I believe that the audience will be able to connect this film with our current global politics," he explains. "I haven't watched such a good political movie in a long time. It reflects the manipulation of the classes really well." Much like Chowdhury, Nipun also recommends Jallikattu. "It is a thriller based on the traditional festival of the wild buffalo's race with the humans. It is a powerful piece of work," he adds. For fans of light-hearted stories, he suggests the Amazon Prime Indian series Hostel Daze. Caliphate, a Netflix original series, is another must-watch thriller, according to Nipun. "It is a Swedish series, where a group of ISIS women plan an attack in Sweden," he says. Nipun also enjoys the series, Kingdom, available on Netflix. "I would call it the South Korean version of Game of Thrones. It's a brilliant watch!" he smiles. Nipun also recommends the Chinese film, Shoplifters, currently streaming on Netflix.
Internationally renowned filmmaker Rubaiyat Hossain recommends the Netflix show, When They See Us, based on the men who were falsely accused of rape and assault in 1989 and became known through news headlines as the 'Central Park Five'. "The director of the show, Ava DuVernay, presents an eye opener about the systematic racism and discrimination against the African American community in the US," she says.
For those who have a Hulu subscription, Hossain recommends Little Fires Everywhere, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. The series is based on Celeste Ng's acclaimed novel of the same name and developed by Liz Tigelaar. The story explores issues of race, something very rarely seen on American television. "Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) by Céline Sciamma, is another film, available on Hulu, that I would recommend," adds the director of Made in Bangladesh. "This film, in my opinion, is a must-watch for anyone who is interested in the minimalist art form of cinema."
Hossain further adds that The Assistant, available on Amazon Prime, is an American drama film that has been described as a 'quiet scream.' "it is an exceptional story, rising out of the 'me too' era in cinema. I would highly recommend this film, especially to women," she says. According to her, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, helmed by Mira Nair and based on Mohsin Hamid's novel of the same name about the impacts of the Al Qaeda attacks on one Pakistani man after 9/11 in the US, is another good watch on Amazon Prime.
On the other hand, young acclaimed director Nuhash Humayun talks about some of his all-time favourites. "I think we are all going through a traumatic experience right now. In these troubling times, we can find comfort in watching the films that we grew up with. I have been revisiting everything from Raiders of the Last Ark to Back to the Future to Life is Beautiful and Children of Heaven. These, to me, are films that are good for the soul," he says.
While international projects have a strong presence in the aforementioned list, ace filmmaker Gias Uddin Selim mentions some excellent Bangla films. "Sheikh Niamat Ali's Surjo Dighol Bari, Alamgir Kabir's Surjokonna, Zahir Raihan's Kokhono Asheni and Raja Sen's Khacha are some of my recommendations," concludes the director of Swapnajaal. All of these films are officially available on YouTube.