The Rocket—actually a rather placid paddle steamer—has been ferrying rich and poor through the wide, slow, shallow rivers of Bangladesh for the best part of a century. Kamar Ahmad Simon’s kinetic and artfully chaotic film is a travelogue with staged elements. In this hybrid fiction blended with reality, actors impersonate student journalists who record an interview with a couple of government politicians (also actors); a YouTuber vlogs his journey with manufactured rapture (cinephiles may think of Geraldine Chaplin’s BBC reporter in Altman’s Nashville); and a deck passenger angrily confronts the steward blocking his access to toilets reserved for the cabin class. If Kamar has laced this two-day odyssey with sociopolitical commentary, you could be forgiven for taking everything at face value: the movie has the electrical charge of observational documentary, the camera drifts across faces, personalities, landscapes, jokes, squabbles, songs, and then moves on. It’s a snapshot of an entire country, so vivid you can smell it.
Delightful… Simon documents the journey with both geographical and sociopolitical fascination, drinking in the scenery while wryly observing the tangle of classes, castes and character types on deck. The loose, entertaining result is equal parts leisurely travelogue, observational social study and droll real-life comedy of errors.”—Guy Lodge, Variety
Harrell Award for the best film in Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) 2022
Kazi Md. Mohsin, Abdullah Al-Mamun, Ariful Islam, Tuhin Kanti Das, Surjo Polas, Noor-I-Naznin, Oniruddho Ratan
In Bengali with English subtitles
Geoblocked to British Columbia.
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Kamar Ahmad Simon
Kamar Ahmad Simon
Saikat Sekhareswar Ray
Saikat Sekhareswar Ray
Photo by Saiful Islam Soikat
Kamar Ahmad Simon
Kamar Ahmad Simon’s debut Are You Listening! (2012) won the Grand Prix in Cinéma du Réel in Paris and the Golden Conch at the Mumbai International Film Festival. His script for Day After… was awarded at Locarno Film Festival’s Open Doors Hub and won the Arte International Open Doors Prize in 2016. The Museum of the Moving Image in New York and the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland have screened his work. Kamar has been a jury member in the Sydney Film Festival.
Filmography: Are You Listening! (2012); Neel Mukut (2021)