The charms of the Bengali winter had decidedly left us, yet a most charming evening was enjoyed by all, for a private screening of the Bengali version of Canadian filmmaker Cathy Stevulak’s award-winning documentary on the ancient indigenous art of Nakshi Kantha, ‘THREADS’, that was held at the residence of Enayetullah Khan, Editor-in-Chief of Dhaka Courier and UNB, in the city’s Baridhara area on Saturday.
Cosmos Foundation arranged the pre-screening on the eve of the documentary’s premiere at the National Museum, for a cross-section of the capital’s intelligentsia, comprising academics, diplomats (both Bangladeshi and foreign), artists, journalists and entrepreneurs. Cathy Stevulak was seen herself receiving guests before the lights dimmed, and over the course of the evening, interacting with many of them. A valuable exercise for both artists and audience members that this type of setting allows for.
What bound them all together, was a sense of appreciation for the subject of the documentary. The preservation of indigenous art forms fails to receive the requisite attention in the national discourse. Guests were seen gravitating to the figure of Hameeda Hossain, one of the founders of Ain o Salish Kendra, who has been such a tireless advocate of the need to support our artisans, once the screening was over.
The intimate atmosphere of the event also allowed for viewers to share their appreciation of the sensitive manner in which the story was brought to the screen, that too by a debutant! Prior to THREADS, Stevulak worked across Canada and internationally as a public affairs and international development consultant. But she was unfailing in her efforts to acknowledge the contribution of Catherine Masud, the late, great Tareque Masud’s widow, as her co-producer, and the dearly departed Mishuk Munier, as one of the cinematographers.
‘THREADS’ is an intimate portrait of 85-year-old Bengali artiste, Surayia Rahman, who transformed the quilt-work tradition of Kantha to create possibilities for a better life for her family and hundreds of destitute mothers in Bangladesh.
Over three decades, as their art takes pride of place in the collections of connoisseurs around the world, Surayia Rahman and the artisans overcome their hardships with the needle and the thread, stitch by stitch.
‘THREADS’ takes us on a journey into the heart of an artiste and illuminates an unconventional path to dignity and independence. The original version of ‘THREADS’ has won three international awards — Female Eye Film Festival, Toronto; Friday Harbor Film Festival and Audience Choice –as the best short documentary.
Noted economist Rehman Sobhan, renowned jurist Dr Kamal Hossain, former diplomat Farooq Sobhan, Kazi M Aminul Islam, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, French Ambassador in Dhaka Sophie Aubert, South Korean Ambassador in Dhaka Ahn Seong-doo, Italian Ambassador Mario Palma, Danish Ambassador Mikael Hemniti Winther, Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs, US Embassy in Dhaka Andrea Brouillette-Rodriguez, noted political scientist Rounaq Jahan, UNB Chairman Amanullah Khan, Cosmos Foundation Chairman Enayetullah Khan, The Daily Observer Associate Editor Syed Badrul Ahsan, UNB Director (Digital and Strategy) Nahar Khan, ‘THREADS’ Director Cathy Stevulak, Producer Leonard Hill and Music Director Tanveer Alam Shawjeeb, UNB Chief News Editor Mahfuzur Rahman, Dhaka Courier Executive Editor Shayan S Khan, Cosmos Foundation Adviser Zain Al Mahmood were, among others, present.
Enayetullah Khan is Executive Producer of the Bengali version of the documentary, while UNB is the media partner.