Filming and Forgetting in BangladeshWritten by Benjamin Chesterton
The hot south.
A communal yard. All chickens and goats and someone hand pumping water. The smell of burning and the sound of sweeping.
It’s the last couple of hours of a three day shoot. Adrenaline and the crush to get the final shots.
I’m recording a few lines of audio with Musfeka when she pauses to half ask, half tell me:
“You’ll forget me. Won’t you? I know you’ll forget me“.
We’ve shared a lot the last three days. Travelling , laughing, learning, crying. Together. Unforgettable moments.
I am in awe of this young woman.
Musfeka’s Mum had a stroke whilst pregnant with her. After she was born her Dad wanted to give her up but her Grandma fought to keep her.
Within a couple of years both Mum and Dad are dead.
We visit their grave and Musfeka offers prayers.
Earlier she had stared into the camera. These words struggling to form in Bangla. No need to ask for translation.
We pause and wipe our eyes.
Musfeka exudes the unbreakable determination of women who have fought like crazy to be recognised by this world.
Raised with love by her Grandma who she lost when she was just 12.
Determined to stay in school her brothers worked as child labourers to pay her fees. So that at least one person in their family was educated.
Some days they did not eat.
When cyclone Sidr ripped through Bangladesh, taking most of her village with it, Musfeka was found by a local charity carrying out disaster relief.
Moved by her story they decided to sponsor her education and pay her living expenses.
“You’ll forget me“
I can’t forget someone who has sat in front of me and opened up their heart.
How could I?
Retelling a story of trauma comes at a cost. Only the most corporate of comms can take that for granted. And even they would struggle.
“You will forget me.”
But for Musfeka I might as well have done. Separated by far more than oceans. She’s out there gracefully struggling. Praying someone will sponsor her next round of medical training. To keep alive hope for a better life.
“You will forget me“
I used to think that honoring someone with a film. That kindness. That respect is enough.
Sometimes. Forgetting. It’s really not.
I hope you’ll be inspired by Musfeka’s remarkable work across a very remote and conservative area of Bangladesh. She is very much breaking barriers. Please take a moment to watch the film about her we made for The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.