Arif Ahmed’s short film, Paradise Nest, won the award for Best Film on Nature/Environment at the 17th Calcutta International Cult Film Festival. The film was screened at Italy’s Cefalù Film Festival, India’s International Festival of Short Films on Culture and Tourism, and the USA’s 41st International Wildlife Film Festival. The film is yet to be released. Arif is a fashion photojournalist by profession. He is also passionate about wildlife photography. Arif, who grew up in Kushtia, was fascinated by bird nests from a young age.
Paradise Nest focuses on the Paradise Flycatcher, locally known as Shaheb Bulbuli or Shah Bulbul, once a common bird in Bangladesh. However, it is on its way to extinction. The film depicts the way the birds build their nests, hatch their chicks and how their home, their paradise, gets destructed by the injustice of the ecosystem. “I took five months to complete the film. I had to keep the safety of the birds in mind during filming,” explains Arif.
Many species are becoming extinct, owing to the mistreatment of nature by human beings. Cutting down trees is depriving birds from building their nests. “The world is suffering, the Amazon, the lungs of the earth, is burning. It is a cry for help from nature. If trees live, birds will live and as a result, people will live, nature will live. It is a chain process,” says Arif.
Wild birds and other animals are hunted and traded around the globe. Arif believes that his film will be a medium of awareness. “When the audience witnesses that birds have the same emotions as people do, they will feel a connection. Every year, over a thousand birds are killed by human actions, primarily because of unawareness,” explains Arif. “Parents and schools can play vital roles by teaching children to enjoy natural environments without harming animals. Furthermore, if we stop trading, hunters will be unable to thrive.”
Arif is happy to see that young people are developing their passion for photography and representing Bangladesh around the globe. “My message to young photographers would be that when you represent our country internationally, make sure that you feel proud of what you are showcasing to the world,” says Arif.
Arif plans to make YouTube episodes on a hundred types of Bangladeshi birds, most of which are on the verge of extinction. He is also working on two more films on birds.