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What a simple yet inspirational film this was! The first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, that too by a female Saudi director in her debut film: Wadjda (2012). It was about a little girl who wants to buy a cycle and race with it against her neighbour’s boy. In a conservative society like Saudi, this was not so easy. The film traces her journey. Wadjda is a 10-year girl living in Riyadh with her mother who works in a school that requires a long commute and her father visits them once in a while. She is friends with…

Nimtoh (2019) aka Invitation is a Nepali film that was screened at the Cannes Film Festival 2019 and was made available online by ICAF. Tashi is a 10-year old boy living with his grandma in the outhouse of a small farm in a village near Darjeeling. His grandma is a servant taking care of the cardamom orchard, Tashi does the odd-jobs around when he is not going to school.  The film starts with the duo making noise in the night to scare off the wild animals that come inside the farm. In that first five minutes, we are transported to…

Tehran Taboo (2017) is an animated film on the lives of three women living in Tehran. Initially, I thought the film will be about the underbelly of Tehran, but it talks about the miseries and compromises that the less-privileged go through in any of the large cities in the world. The film is available on Kanopy. The film by Ali Soozandeh – who is settled in Germany since 1995 – is intense and the storytelling is so detailed that we are quickly drawn into the lives of the main characters. The first one is a mother who raises her young…

Let Her Cry is a Sri Lankan Sinhala adult drama directed by Asoka Handagama. FFSI Online Film Festival has made the film available for free streaming from Vimeo. The story is a familiar one, but the narration has been an engaging one. There are only four main characters in the film with the story revolving around them. The story is about a deep romantic desire (infatuation?), a young lady student is having on her elderly professor. The professor, in his 60s, is well-respected, is happily married with two children – a boy studying for his graduation in America, and a…

Alpha (2019) is a Bangladeshi film, that shows the lives of the underprivileged living in Dhaka City. The film is made available online for free by the Federation of Film Societies of India. The story is about an “artist” (painter) living in a small hut in the middle of a dirty lake in the city. Alamgir Kabir has done the role of the artist well. His life is surrounded by labourers and the poor, who share a bonding in their struggle to make their ends meet. His character reminded me of the 1970s and 1980s Tamil movies that were about…