As part of the “Cycle Of Care” workshop, in collaboration with LEEDO of Bangladesh, Rainbow Collective of UK and Openvizor, UK, 6 children wrote, directed and shot 7 short films over the course of 3 days in November 2014 using small HD pen video cameras. The film was then edited and screened first to the children of the shelter and then at the EMK Centre, Dhaka on Thursday 27th November to a public audience.
The six children have lived on the streets of Dhaka in various locations and are currently at a shelter – LEEDO-SETU, a transitional space in Babubazar, Dhaka, which houses upto 25 children on a transitional basis, helping to find permanent shelters for the children they rescue from the streets of Dhaka.
Hasan, Bonna, Brishti, Tania, Farzana and Jasmin are children who lived/live a part of their lives on the streets of Dhaka and deal with its cruel reality. Despite their hardship in life, they are playful, hopeful and very energetic like children elsewhere in the world. However, it is very hard for them to trust, express and to share their thoughts with adults due to the hardships they have faced. Sometimes, it’s hard for them to be just children. Through their films, all of them opened a window into their world, expressing their inner thoughts, joy and experiences. The main idea was to let them explore their creative boundaries with film. In this instance, film becomes a powerful medium to express ones perspective and thoughts.
We structured the process through some workshops – The first workshop involved the children watching a film and explained the idea of film being “the media of one’s story telling” to the children. We showed them the movie “MASS-E-BHAT” directed by Rainbow Collective, which is based on street children in Dhaka city. We explained to them how children can express themselves, share their lifestyles and also can show anything they want in a film. They were very encouraged and 6 children, 5 girls and one boy, were recruited to share their stories with us; they were left to come up with their own storyboards using six frames on an A4 piece of paper and after drawing the scenes, they narrated their stories to us, so that we were able to understand with them, the crucial scenes in the stories they produced.
The response was AMAZING! All of them came up with very different and brilliant storyboards. Some are simple yet extraordinary, some are intense, some told their personal stories, some expressed how they survive in the streets. We were amazed by their capability, creativity and directness in creating these stories, beautifully drawn and told with conviction.
We then showed them some technicalities of the pen camera that they used to film their movies, and introduced them to basic rules and norms of cinematography. With six brilliant storyboards in hand, we split into two groups, and went to shoot directly on their sites. All of the shoots were in Kamalapur Railway Station and Sadarghat Terminal. The locations are the exact locations they mentioned in the storyboards.
They directed their own movie, shot the scenes, recorded sounds, acted in their movies and helped each other. The small pen cameras were just appropriate for a shoot like this, no fuss and brilliant output. The scenes and shots represented their own cinematography and direction. We (myself, Richard York, Hannan Majid, Delwar Hossain) were there to guide the children with operating cameras and teaching some basic skills along the way.
The experience of making the movies with the children is one of the most precious experiences of my life. I learnt a lot from them, about them and also about life! We are happy and excited with the output of the project; it is a wonderful experience to be a part of their story. We are super proud of these tiny directors. I look forward to continue the engagement with them as I cherish the connection we made with them. Maybe in the future we will be privileged to work with these wonderfully creative children.
Here are some pictures, we will be publishing the movie soon.