The film, originally titled “Rehana Maryam Noor,” is written and directed by Bangladesh’s Abdullah Mohammad Saad and produced by Singapore’s Jeremy Chua.
Saad’s debut feature “Live from Dhaka” won best director and best actor at the Singapore International Film Festival in 2016, and went on to screen at other festivals including Rotterdam and Locarno.
Chua is a festival veteran whose producing credits include 2016 Cannes title “A Yellow Bird.” The project was made with the support of the Doha Film Institute and the Busan Asian Cinema Fund.
The film follows Rehana, an assistant professor at a medical college, who struggles to keep the harmony between work and family, as she has to play all the complex roles of a teacher, doctor, sister, daughter, and mother. One evening, she witnesses a student storming out of a professor’s office, crying. Deeply impacted by this event, Rehana’s life starts to spiral out of control. She gradually descends into obsession, seeking retribution, just as she receives a complaint from the school about her six-year-old daughter’s unusual behavior.
“I grew up in a big family with three elder sisters who have impacted me and my thought processes deeply, and I believe that Rehana was born out of their profound influence on me,” Saad told Variety. “The investigation of this character took quite a while as I wanted to understand this complex woman who is torn between her logic and her impulse—what fascinated me the most is how full of contradictions Rehana is, as she tries to make sense of what she wants and why she wants it, in a claustrophobic world that keeps pushing her to the edge.”
The last film from Bangladesh at Cannes was the late Tareque Masud’s Director’s Fortnight title “The Clay Bird” in 2002, which won the FIPRESCI award.
“Saad is an extraordinary talent from a country with a very rare audiovisual output: in his outstanding film he gives a fascinating, thoughtful and heart-wrenching vision of contemporary city life and violence against women in Bangladesh which should please audiences worldwide with its beautiful cinematography, accessible approach and attaching lead character,” said Gabor Greiner, COO, Films Boutique. “We are proud to introduce his oeuvre to international audiences.”