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Five short films by Mahde Hasan streaming now

  • Published at 08:47 pm July 12th, 2020
Mahde Hasan
Mahde's first feature film, Sand City, produced by director Rubaiyat Hossain is currently in development Bertrand Soubrier

His short, A Boring Film, is the first film from Bangladesh to compete in the prestigious Locarno Film Festival

Mahde Hasan is hands down one of the most promising young directors from Bangladesh. His experimental short films have garnered him something resembling a cult following. Three of these films have been screened at different editions of the prestigious Locarno Film Festival. His first feature film, Sand City, currently in development, was selected for La Fabrique Cinema at the Cannes Film Festival 2019. And the awe-inspiring list goes on. 

The zero budget, one-man-army approach to film-making is commendable in Mahde’s works. Most of his films are written and edited by himself. The cinematography, which is also usually done by the director himself, is one of his strong suits. The adept hold on light and composition would make one think he must be a trained photographer. But no. It’s pure talent and hard work.

His latest short A Boring Film has just been selected in the Pardi di domani International Competition of Locarno Film Festival 2020. It is the first film from Bangladesh to compete in Locarno, confirms Mahde. Produced by Mahajabin Khan, and Muhammad Anwar Hossain, the film's credits include Franklin Fuji as assistant director, Mahde and Dibbyo Samadder as cinematographers, Oronnok Prithibi and Mahde in sound, and Mahde (again) in editing. Former Dhaka Tribune Showtime sub-editor and film editor Siam Raihan's Studio Lonthon provided technical support in post-production.

This month, Mahde is giving us a treat by making five of his short films available online, four of which can be streamed for free.

Photographs of a School Teacher (2012)

Duration: 7 mins

Festival selection: IndieCork Film Festival, Ireland

Link: https://vimeo.com/68468409

The film documents a collection of photographs of the director’s mother, who teaches at RC Government Primary School and liked having her photographs taken when she was young. Mahde’s grandfather’s public service had placed him in different parts of the country and hence his mother’s photographs are also from far flung places like Kishoreganj, Thakurgaon, Brahmanbaria, Noakhali and so on. 

The nostalgia inducing background music trots effortlessly from eastern to western classical. As a homage to master film-maker Yasujiro Ozu, one of the chapters of the film features a track from Tokyo Story, a film that also explores the complex dynamics of the relationship between aging parents and busy adults. One scene of his mother sitting idly on a rocking chair may remind the viewers of the famous painting, Whistler’s Mother, but Mahde confirmed he didn’t consciously go for any painting references in this movie. Great minds think alike- is all we can say. 


I am Time (2013)

Duration: 9 min

Festival selection: 69th Locarno Film Festival (Open Doors Screening)

Link: https://lagvelki.com/movie/i-am-time 

The official synopsis reads: “A photographer is fascinated by the concept of time. He captures self-portraits with a large clock, trying to frame moments. During this journey, he discovers different ambiances and landscapes, gradually facing the mystery of time and trying to touch the enigmatic moments of life.” 

This film is available for a small fee on the streaming site LagVelki. Capturing Salvador Dali-esque visuals, the film reads like a poetry that prides itself for being exquisitely obscure. 



Where is the Friend's Home (2017)

Duration: 1 min

Festival selection: 70th Locarno Film Festival

Link: https://vimeo.com/211145269

Password: friend

Two children play in the rain as the director watch from above in this tribute to Iranian maestro Abbas Kiarostami. The window blinds masterfully appear like the insides of one’s eyelids. Mahde’s discontent with the colour his digital camera produces led him to shoot this in black and white like many of his other works. 

The film won the first prize in the Movie of My Life section at the 70th Locarno Film Festival. This section, which was only included in 2017, invited one minute shorts on inspirational films and directors. Many of these shorts are still available in the festival’s YouTube channel. 


Death of a Reader (2017)

Duration: 9 min

Festival selection: 71st Locarno Film Festival (Open Doors Screening)

Link: https://vimeo.com/219937591

Password: book

“A confession from a filmmaker, who is not able to read books anymore. He tries to justify himself before the camera,” reads the logline of this thought provoking short film. The director holds a scrapbook full of mostly morbid pictures and holds it up at different public places in Dhaka. The juxtaposition of the two images create a third meaning in the viewer’s mind, as if one was reading a book without words. 

The reader of this scrapbook goes against the stream, standing still in a moving crowd, riding an escalator backwards or holding the book upside down in noisy places that won’t allow him to concentrate. 

Many of these images, superimposed at times, will stay with the audience for a long time; like a TV advert of two models eating fried chicken in Bashundhara City against an image of someone being tortured gruesomely at war. At one point, the reader (in this case, the director himself) puts away the book and holds a can of Coke, alluding to surrendering one’s soul to the capitalists after a long uphill battle.


Thank you (2012)

Duration: 20 seconds

Link: https://vimeo.com/35990267

If your time is too precious, but you still wish to discover promising directors in Bangladesh, watch this bite sized film that holds the essence of Mahde in a nut shell, or an ash tray to be more precise. Created just for a good laugh, this psychedelic short features the director in two roles- a smoker and an eccentric parasite in his ash tray. The film is free to watch on Vimeo, unlike the links to the previous two, which will expire next month. 






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