RUBAIYAT HOSSAIN on Made in Bangladesh – TIFF2019

 

Made in Bangladesh screening at The Toronto International Film Festival 2019.

https://www.tiff.net/events/made-in-bangladesh for showtime and tickets

S Y N O P S I S – Made in Bangladesh

Shimu, 23, works in a clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Faced with difficult conditions at work, she decides to start a union with her co-workers. Despite threats from the management and disapproval of her husband, Shimu is determined to go on. Together the women must fight and find a way. 

I N T E R V I E W (with notes from Touchwood PR)

WITH RUBAIYAT HOSSAIN 

WHAT DREW YOU INTO THIS STORY? I have always been interested in examining, on screen, women’s lived experiences and social conditions. I did some research for three years, meeting lots of factory workers, because I didn’t have any experience working in a factory. I finally came across this woman named Daliya, who was a union leader. I felt she was courageous, strong, and articulate. She had been treated so badly, being in an abusive marriage, but she was longing for dignity. So, I could begin to write my story, which is loosely based on real events of her life. 

WHAT STRUCK YOU DURING THIS RESEARCH? The women factory workers are very young, they’re mainly between 18 to 30. It is hard to find older factory workers as they develop back and shoulders problems, as a result of sitting on hard benches, bent over the sewing machines ten hours a day, six days a week for a hundred euros a month in the best case. But what I found fascinating is that, even with very little pay, difficult conditions at work, struggles against patriarchy at home, these women are empowered. Because one hundred years ago in Bangladesh, women could not even work, they had to live in seclusion. Today, they are working, they are making a living for themselves and their families, and they are fighting within the factory and at home for their rights. 

SHIMU’S DESTINY IS QUITE COMMON BUT SHE IS ALSO A REAL HEROIN... I myself grew up in a privileged family, I was educated, I was able to go to school, to university. One day, Daliya came to my house, we were sitting in my study, and I was interviewing her, she said: “if I had been to school like you, by now I would have done something big.” That really struck me emotionally. Society and fate have really put Daliya down, but she kept this faith that one day she would amount to something. Now there is a movie about her, and the world will see it. Hopefully her story and her voice will be heard globally. She has reached something, she has made something big! 

WHAT WERE YOUR SOURCES OF INSPIRATION? I was inspired by films, as Rosetta, for example, and even Norma Rae, which I showed to Shimu. I was also inspired by the paintings on rickshaws, which are very colorful. It’s very proper to Dhaka, which is at the same time a very dark city, without many lights because of the shortage of electricity. But there are burst of colors. So, with my production designers, I wanted to use colors in a strong way. And also use darkness and colors side by side. The purpose is to make you feel the space through color and sound. 

IS NASIMA APA CHARACTER BASED ON A REAL WOMAN? In my country, there is a long history of women’s rights organizations, trying to improve the conditions of women. When I met Daliya, she told me she had gone to these meetings. Women are getting the knowledge of the unions through these human rights organizations. They are taught about the law. The relation between Nasima Apa and Shimu is similar to the kind of relationship I had with Daliya : we are friends, but there is a social difference we can’t ignore. In Bangladesh, class structures are so strong! But women are helping each other across classes. 

ONE OF SHIMU’S LINE IS STRIKING: “WE ARE WOMEN. SCREWED IF YOU ARE MARRIED, SCREWED IF WE’RE NOT…” I wanted to put that line on a tee-shirt!

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