Review Short Films Based on Tanvir Ratul’s Stories: No Filter (2023), Filter (2023), and Alter (2023) by Tobias Watford

The three short films in question are based on Tanvir Ratul’s stories and are compellingly universal at their core. In each of the three movies, characters are trying to overcome overseen social obstacles, ones we don’t speak about very often because we’re too shortsighted and consider being alive itself a story of automatic success. Freedom is never free. All kinds of costs, effort, maturity, and investment are part of the price. Tanvir’s stories simply depict some of the actual facets of contemporary relationships and react in an inevitably human fashion, wanting to break the hideout of shame.

In these moments of absolute panic, the narrative or the protagonists do not run away from the situation.

However, with the issues that these three shorter short films raise, there’s a constant conflicting question that we’ve all probably addressed at some point in our lives. Though we’ve all been educated differently and different societies and communities have different customs, should human rights and morality be judged and decided within smaller contexts and parameters?

Is it good for us to always accept social norms and capitalise on them? Surely not, but often we don’t see any other way. We can stay true to ourselves while embracing culture and roots, but clearly, that isn’t what we want. We are on the path to becoming a species that is open, but we are not fully there yet!

Director Anarya Murshid was behind the camera in two of the three films. He and his team created this quick-look dramatisation regarding the basic rights within the Bangladeshi context by asking questions about the perspective on religion (No Filter), feminism (Filter), and gender identity (Alter), and all three short films are commonly themed on sexuality, which is, in fact, the biggest taboo in many places.

All three films feel like great introductions to a potential story. But they are somehow incompletely told in less than 2 minutes. Author Tanvir Ratul said, “Though each of the original stories was initially intended to be read as standalone flash fiction, these three short films were composed mainly to be part of a collective anthology.” The last scene in every film is illuminated with the character’s true smile, even when it is invisible, as in the first movie, and they are a perfect conclusion for this series of short, sultry, and subaltern stories.

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