The Clay Bird (2002)
The Clay Bird takes place in the late '60s, in East Pakistan, on the eve of a violent revolution that created the independent state of Bangladesh. Anu (Nurul Islam Bablu) lives with his fundamentalist Muslim father, Kazi (Jayanto Chattopadhyay), who practices homeopathic medicine. Anu's mother, Ayesha (Rokeya Prachy) was once a spirited girl, but she's become sullen in subservience to her increasingly taciturn husband. Anu also has a sweet but sickly little sister, Asma. Milon, Kazi's younger brother, is involved in local politics, protesting against Pakistan's military rule. He also takes Anu to the lively local Hindu festivals. Finally, worried for his son's spirituality, Kazi sends Anu away to a madrasah , a strict Muslim boarding school. There, the sweetly inquisitive boy is an outcast, so he befriends another outcast, Rokon (Russell Farazi), who invites him to play catch with an imaginary ball. (In the strict teachings of the madrasah, the boys are not allowed to employ objects or boundaries in their play.) As Anu adjusts to life away from home, Asma grows gravely ill, and Ayesha is frustrated by Kazi's refusal to use modern medicine. The family has its own internal crisis as the political upheaval around them reaches a deadly level. Director Tareque Masud, who wrote the script with his wife, Catherine Masud, who also edited the film, has a background in documentary filmmaking. The Clay Bird, his first narrative feature, won a FIPRESCI Award at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and was shown at New Directors/New Films in 2003. It was also the first film officially submitted by Bangladesh for Oscar consideration. … More
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Critic Reviews for The Clay Bird
It's a beautifully simple portrait of a country in ferment and a family struggling to define its soul.
With compassionate restraint, Masud challenges the intimate link of religious fundamentalism to national power.
The filmmaker's clear empathy for his characters and close knowledge of his subject matter gives the film a vibrant authenticity that well compensates for any narrative flaws.
It has a quiet thoughtfulness that never comes close to being draggy, and a wisdom that is anything but obtuse.
... done with conviction for the long-suffering people of Bangladesh.
...it has about it the resonance of truth as well as a gentle equanimity
Clay Bird is beautifully photographed, and the central story is compelling but, too often, the characters feel like stick figures being manipulated to prove the movie's valid, but obvious, point.
The earthy imagery is delicate while the drama is oddly elliptical, creating a lovely film of storybook images and parables.
While The Clay Bird might be a bit too restrained for its own dramatic good, at least the film sheds light on a significant part of world history in a way relevant to contemporary viewers.
A slice-of-life movie set against the backdrop of Bangladeshi independence
The Clay Bird is a incredibly humbling experience that you'd be a fool to miss.
It's a perfect title for a film that deals so passionately with freedom -- spiritual and political -- and coming of age, not just of Anu, but an entire nation.
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