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Bangla Surf Girls hits the crest at Hot Docs

  • Published at 08:22 pm April 18th, 2020
Bangla Surf Girls
Bangla Surf Girls is set in a slum near Cox’s Bazar where young girls who sell trinkets to tourists are pulled into a surf program Courtesy

This Oscar qualifying film festival is North America’s biggest for documentaries

Bangladeshi filmmaker Elizabeth D Costa’s feature length documentary Bangla Surf Girls has received official selection in Canada’s Hot Docs International Film Festival. This Oscar qualifying film festival is North America’s biggest for documentaries hosting over 200 films every year since 1993. 

The film is set in a slum near Cox’s Bazar where young girls who sell trinkets to tourists are pulled into a surf program started by a local youth. What follows is a transformation as the girls gain confidence and dream of escaping a life of drudgery and abuse. It explores the thrill of surfing juxtaposed with the struggle of coming-of-age amid the complex socio-economic pressures of an impoverished community.

Elizabeth is ecstatic about her debut feature film riding the waves of this prestigious festival. She told Dhaka Tribune Showtime that the film took three years to shoot. It started with a grant from Chicken and Egg Pictures and finished with a mentoring program with Film Independent, which was conducted online for the coronavirus lockdown. Bangla Surf Girls also has a Canadian producer, Lalita Krishna. 

The young film-maker finished her Masters in Film Studies from Dhaka University, after graduating from University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB). Her earliest mentor was Tareque Masud, whom she admires earnestly. 

Elizabeth said this selection was “very unexpected” and that it is “a win for our generation.”

“Documentaries can give voice to the voiceless,” she said. “I hope people will come together and talk about these girls featured in the film and extend a helping hand to them. That would be the true success of the film more than any award.”

Due to the coronavirus situation, the specifics of when and where the festival will take place has not been confirmed yet. Before this, Germany-based Bangladeshi documentary maker Shaheen Dill-Riaz’s Jibon Jole-Bele (Sand and Water) received the honour of being selected at Hot Docs 17 years ago. 

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