There’s a “before” and an “after” in Humaira’s relationship with her family. The subtle line marking the change is her mother’s Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Her film, THINGS I COULD NEVER TELL MY MOTHER, screened at Sala Galileo under the GexDoc category, tells the story of a challenging coexistence under the same roof in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
There’s a “before” and an “after” in Humaira‘s relationship with her family. The subtle line marking the change is her mother’s Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Her film, THINGS I COULD NEVER TELL MY MOTHER, screened at Sala Galileo under the GexDoc category, tells the story of a challenging coexistence under the same roof in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Director Humaira Bilkis grows up surrounded by a blossoming of art, poetry, theatre, and several cultural stimuli: her mother was once an enthusiastic artist. “But since she performed the Hajj, the great Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, in 2002, she has changed profoundly. Now, she lives confined to our apartment, following the precepts of Sharia and rejecting the richness of her previous life. She keeps urging me to get married and stop making films, as Islam prohibits any human representation”. Humaira struggles to understand: “Why are you so afraid? When did you decide to change?” Then she vents on the phone to friends and colleagues: “They don’t even want my intern to enter the house”. “They don’t support what you do; they can’t stand your work”, is the response. Her mother invites her to undertake the Hajj. “I will do it – she says – to resolve our differences and to tell her that I am in a relationship with a Hindu man”. It’s possible to be connected through distances yet be divided by positions and beliefs, even while living under the same roof. Bilkis, after studying in India, returned to Bangladesh, strengthening her ties with her homeland while also observing the growing differences, starting from her own home and family. THINGS I COULD NEVER TELL MY MOTHER talks, therefore, about the goal/need and desire to reconnect. A fresh start is necessary: divided by their beliefs, mother and daughter must learn to understand and respect each other again. It is the first Bangladeshi film to compete in Giffoni’s 53-year history. “Relationships break over time, and it is very difficult to rebuild them – says the director – This film remains close to my heart because my father passed away at the end of the production. My mother reconnected with her younger self and I also saw myself when I looked at her in old photo albums”.