Shabnam Ferdosi has is a woman of multiple talents; she has been involved in various kinds of work, from teaching to journalism. Once she was a model, but unlike many other models that usually turn into actresses, she took up an interest behind the camera and is now a documentary filmmaker. Till date she has made over a dozen documentary films including Opekkha, Noho Mata Noho Kanya, Ektukhani Praner Khonje, Vashojoyetee and many others. She has received critical acclaim for her work and also received accolades such as Bangladesh Shilpokola Academy Award, Anannaya Top Ten Award and an award in the 14th Rainbow International Film Festival.
1. Why did you choose to become a filmmaker?
I never planned to become a filmmaker. Once when I was working as a model, I was about to do a television commercial. There I saw people like Shadul Anum Tutul and Maksudul Bari behind the camera. Seeing them made me feel like they had all the power in the world. So my interest for making films started to grow. So I stared reading books about filmmaking and in 1996 I joined Johi Raihan's Film Society. In 1999, I became part of a short film forum and later in 2000 I participated in the first documentary film course in Bangladesh.
2. Why did you discontinue modeling? Do you want to get in front of the camera again someday?
Honestly, I was not very comfortable being in front of the camera. It made me a bit nervous. But now I have been working behind the camera for a significant amount of time. Sometimes I do romanticize about appearing onscreen again one day, but for the time being I do not have any actual plan to do so.
3. Who is you biggest inspiration?
My beloved friends and family inspire me. I am very thankful to two very special men in my life, my father and my son. Other individuals like Mazarey Hassin, Jamil Ahmed and Samia Zaman have inspired me and Maksudul Bari has been like a guru to me.
4. Do you think film schools can help people to become better as a director?
Yes! And I think there should a proper film school in our country; I believe it will improve the quality of filmmakers in our country. If there was a proper film school in our country with really good teachers then I would have signed up!
5. What do you think about the current situation of filmmaking in Bangladesh?
To be honest there are a lot of commercial films being made in our country and a few independent films, and very few are truly entertaining. I cannot remember the last good film, and it has been a while. From time to time, I watch Hollywood and Bollywood films for entertainment. I think this trend will change as people are becoming more educated about films.
6. What change would you like to bring with your films?
I would like to make people more aware of their surroundings and make them see things from a different and positive perspective with my films. I think all forms of art can bring this change, whether it is painting, music, film, etc. Art has a very positive influence on society.
7. What are some of the qualities essential to become a good filmmaker?
A good filmmaker must be a good listener and communicator. Patience is also an important factor and the most important thing about a filmmaker is that he/she must be good at visualizing things and be an excellent storyteller.
8. Who are some of your favorite directors?
Michael Moore, Oliver, Stone, Tareque Masud, Tanvir Mukammel and Yasmeen Kabir are some of my favorite directors.
9. Who are some of your favorite actors?
My favourite actors are Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Clint Eastwood, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Dustin Hoffman, along with many others.
10. What is your upcoming project about?
My next project will be about our national poet, Kazi Nazrul Islam. I found his life story very intriguing; in my opinion people should know more about the poet's life and his literary works. I hope the project goes well.