February 22, 2019

‘Bulbul Can Sing’ Wins Special Mention at Berlin Film Festival

National Award-winning filmmaker Rima Das' Assamese feature film ‘Bulbul Can Sing’ received a Special Mention at the Berlin International Film Festival 2019. The film, which was competing in the Generation 14 Plus category, had its European premiere at the festival. 

"I am extremely pleased and honoured to receive this important award as a Special Mention from the international jury - Berlin Generation 14 plus, at the Berlin International Film Festival 2019," Das said in a statement.

The Generation 14 Plus selection focuses on films that take young people seriously in their narratives and their cinematic languages. These are told through the eyes of their young protagonists, making their worlds tangible and accessible to the rest of the world. 

With her third independent feature, Rima Das presents yet another gentle and fervent tale of adolescent love and identity. The film follows 15-year-old Bulbul, an exuberant young girl on the cusp of adulthood, and her two friends, Sumu and Bonny. As the three teenagers explore their own identities, the film tactfully conveys the tyranny and subjugation that society imposes and undergoes.

The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018, followed by the South Asian premiere at the Busan International Film Festival and Indian premiere at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, where it won the Golden Gateway Award for the second consecutive year.

The 95-minute-long film, with its pleasing simplicity and realism, uses the rural landscape as the stage on which to dramatise the story of three teenagers searching for their identity, focusing for the most part on Bulbul, whose clash with traditional rules of behaviour leaves her shaken.

One common thread that runs through all the three feature films of the director is their setting - her native village of Kalardiya in Chaygaon, Assam. Das draws her inspiration from real-life people and places, but turns their lives into compelling fiction. 

Bulbul Can Sing’ is strengthened by its candid understanding and strong performances by Arnali Das, Manoranjan Das, Manabendra Das, Bonita Thakuriya, Pakija Begam, etc. It is produced under Das' Mumbai-based banner, Flying River Films. Like her previous ventures, Rima Das serves as the editor, cinematographer and production designer, in addition to writing, directing and producing. The result is strongly personal and expressive.

Prantik Deka