Leesa Gazi’s documentary film, Rising Silence, recently won two prestigious accolades, Best Feature Documentary at the Moondance International Film Festival and Best Investigation 2019 at the Asian Media Awards.
British-Bangladeshi writer, director, actor and playwright, Leesa Gazi, dedicated her career to presenting powerful stories told from a woman’s perspective, via theatre and film. Produced by Komola Collective, Openvizor and Making Herstory, her documentary film, Rising Silence, memorialising accounts of Birangona women of the 1971 Liberation War, was screened at the Dhaka International Film Festival 2019.
“I have tried to show the unique life experiences and the real surroundings of Birangona women in Rising Silence,” explains Leesa. “Despite their sufferings and plight, these women are brave, resilient and loving. The film explores where their strength and fighting spirit to rise above the sufferings come from.”
The Moondance International Film Festival is one of the most important platforms in the world for promoting, encouraging, educating and rewarding non-violent conflict resolution in the arts. The festival was founded in 1999 by Elizabeth English, a film technician in the USA. English named the festival Moondance as a contrast to the Sundance Film Festival, where no female filmmakers had won in 22 years.
On the other hand, the Asian Media Awards, established in 2013, champion the groundbreaking work of reporters, producers and directors in highlighting issues affecting race relations and human rights. Rising Silence was the only independent documentary feature nominated in the investigation category.
“We feel hugely honoured to receive these two awards, as they are significant for our mission to help spread and amplify the voice of sexual violence survivors,” says Leesa. “We are grateful to Manusher Jonno Foundation and The Osiris Group, who have extended their kind support for the making of the film. We hope that the world will finally recognise the plight and sufferings of the victims and survivors of mass rape in the Liberation War of Bangladesh.”