LA FABRIQUE AT CANNES – Kamar Ahmad, “Silence of the seashell”

(part of a multi-article series about the 2014 Fabrique des Cinémas program at the Cannes Festival)

THE PITCH: In “Silence of the seashell” two friends set out on a journey, crossing borders and valleys, in search of a river that runs to the sea.

Who do you make movies for?
I want to make movies for myself. It is my way of coping with the strange world we live in. Secondly, I want to make movies for the children of the future and for their memories to forgive us for the legacy we are leaving behind. Thirdly, I want to make movies for people who are not ready to pay for ninety minutes only to forget in the next ninety minutes.

Where did the idea for this story come from? 
I lost my best friend when I was in my early teens. He had to emigrate to look for a better and safer future. I’ve carried this loss in me ever since, a loss I could never justify. When I grew, wrestling with questions about my own existence, I realized that everything is connected. Today is a legacy of yesterday, the present is nothing but a dialectical course of interwoven actions of the past. I started writing, to keep myself from hanging between the worlds.

Screen Comment will be in Cannes covering the Festival during May 14-25. Follow us on Twitter @ScreenComment

What would you describe as an essential trait of character in humans?
Humans are just another species in nature; their essential trait is that they believe they are the only species in nature that matters.

How much financing, if any, were you able to receive from the Bangladeshi government for “Silence of Seashell?” 
There is a competitive public fund worth around $ 62K of which  $ 48K comes in cash and the rest as services from the only government- run studio, which doesn’t exactly have modern-day equipment. They impose a strange caveat : that the film be completed within six months of receiving the funding. We’re therefore going to use it as a last resort, for the last moment.

Where does the magnificent title of your movie come from? 
For every soul, there is a shell. If you put a shell on your ear, you can hear an ocean roar. In Gita, the ancient script, it says, “Na jayate mriyate va kadachin, Nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyan, Ajo nityah sasvato yam purano, Na hanyate hanyamane” [Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 20]

What it means is, “the soul never takes birth and never dies at any time, nor does it come into being when the body is created. The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable, and timeless; when the body is destroyed, the soul is not.”

I just wanted to embody this concept of eternal soul and frame it in its silence.

WATCH a previous film by Kamar Ahmad, called “Are you listening?”