Documentary Films on Bangladesh – Part 2

Documentary Films on Bangladesh by non-Bangladeshi Film Makers

So here are another list of few more documentary films on Bangladesh. First part of documentary films on Bangladesh listed nine docs. In this part, nine more are included. The subject matter of these docs are microcredit, safe work environment, water contamination, social life, natural world, etc.

Again, the documentary films on Bangladesh here are not a review, just descriptions and are in random order.

Clothes To Die For


Director:  Zara Hayes
2014 • 59 Min • UK

In April 2013, 18-year-old Shirin became one of thousands of people trapped inside the Rana Plaza building when it collapsed in the worst industrial disaster in the 21st century. In this moving documentary for BBC Two’s This World, Shirin and some of the other survivors tell their remarkable story of survival and escape. Many were rescued by ordinary local people who risked their own lives crawling into the rubble to save them. But Clothes To Die For also reveals the incredible growth of the Bangladeshi garment industry and the greed and high level corruption that led to the Rana Plaza tragedy. This tiny country has become the second largest producer of clothes in the world after China, transforming the country and providing employment for millions of people, most of them young women. As the personal stories of survivors reveal, in Bangladesh even a wage as low as £1.50 a day can be completely life-changing and many don’t want that opportunity taken away. Producing goods for several British and European high street stores, the tragedy at the Rana Plaza sent shock waves around the world about the safety of the Bangladesh garment industry. As one local factory owner said ‘At the end of the day if the retailers want more compliant factories they have to pay us more. Get the retailers together and make sure they pay us five cents more. Not even ten, we don’t even want ten cents, we want five, we’re happy with five cents on each garment’.

Bonsai People

Bonsai People cover

Director: Holly Mosher
2011 • 56 Min • USA | aka. বনসাই মানুষ

Bonsai People: The Vision of Muhammad Yunus is aptly titled. Muhammad Yunus likens poor people to the artificially stunted bonsai tree, “where nothing is wrong with their seed; society never allowed them to grow as tall as everybody else.” His vision to remedy poverty and help poor people overcome their situations led to his creation of the Grameen Bank. This innovative financial institution, which furnishes microcredit loans to poor women and demands creative requirements for eligibility (such as learning about hygiene), has changed aid in the developing world in the last few decades.

From Yunus’ initial personal loan of twenty-seven dollars given to forty-two people, microcredit has become global, and has affected over a hundred million families. Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist, received the Nobel Peace Prize for this work, and has since partnered with businesses in his attempts to do “social good.”

The video focuses on the life of poor people in rural Bangladesh, traces the steps that are taken to acquire a micro-loan, and interviews several recipients of loans in the past, assessing the benefits these specific village women have derived from the loans. The footage of the Bangladesh countryside is beautifully shot; the facts about poverty, health, malnutrition, and the fragility of life in much of the world are well placed throughout the video; and the interviews with the participants are moving.

Signature of Change, the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh

Signature of Change-cover

Director: Mark Aardenburg
1996 • 46 Min • Netherlands

Bangladesh with its 120 million people is one of the most densely populated countries. It is found in one of the world’s biggest river deltas. Most of the inhabitants, who are mainly Islamic, live in the beautiful countryside. Although very fertile, overpopulation and frequent natural disasters make life a continuing struggle; 85% live below the poverty line. The Bengali professor Muhammad Yunus cares about their fate. In 1983 he founded the Grameen Bank, which lends money to the poor and landless only. Today the Bank works in 35.000 villages and has more than 2 million borrowers, 94% of them are women. During the documentary Professor Yunus tells about the founding, development and future of the Bank. He seems like an impossible mix of socialist and capitalist ideals; a harmony of contradiction. His ambition is to create a poverty free world, for which he indeed set the first steps.

Bridging Two Worlds

Bridging Two Worlds cover

Director: Mark Verkerk
2005 • 56 Min • Netherlands

In a world in which the rift between rich and poor has never been greater, comes a timely story offering hope. This inspirational film charts the life of Motalib Weijters, a remarkable man at home in two contrasting worlds: Bangladesh and the Netherlands. At just seven years of age, he was plucked from a Dhaka street and taken to the Netherlands. Seventeen years later, Motalib goes back in search of his roots and family. There he begins a process that over ten years has ended up transforming a whole community. From street child to village “father”, Motalib shows that even in the face of massive global problems, individuals can make a difference.

Spoken languages and subtitling of Bridging Two Worlds are in Dutch and English.

When The World Sinks

When the World Sinks-cover

Director:  Yorgos Avgeropoulos
2009-2010 • 52 Min • Greece

On 25th May 2009, Cyclone Aila devastated southern Bangladesh, leaving an estimated 8,000 dead and over 1 million homeless. The IPCC claims that by 2050 1 in 7 Bangladeshis will be a climate migrant, forced from their homes due to ever-advancing sea levels, and the saline contamination and unemployment that inevitably ensue. With their land under water and their crops destroyed, many southern Bangladeshis have been forced to abandon farming for fishing, an industry that can only employ a fraction of the people who once worked on the now-vanished rice fields. As one former farmer explains, ‘My conscience tells me to leave, but where else can I go? It’s like a prison here.’

More infomation about Bangladesh – When The World Sinks.

Man-eating Tigers of the Sundarbans


Director: Ingrid Kvale
2009 • 48 Min • UK

Tiger experts in Bangladesh have a problem: how can they encourage local people to protect the beautiful and endangered Bengal tiger when these animals have developed a taste for human flesh?

The Sundarbans forest is one of the biggest tracts of mangrove forest left in the world. It is rich in wildlife and provides important forest resources for communities living around its edge. But up to 50 forest workers are killed by tigers each year and now the boldest animals are sneaking into villages at night.

This gripping film reveals the tension and heartache of living so close to a killer cat and follows the bold attempt by one village to teach street dogs to scare away the rogue tiger on their doorstep.

The Concert for Bangladesh

The Concert for Bangladesh-cover

Director: Saul Swimmer
1972 • 103 Min • USA

The first benefit rock concert when major musicians performed to raise humanitarian relief funds for the refugees of Bangladesh of 1971 war.

Ex-Beatle George Harrison organized this spectacular concert on August 1, 1971 at New York’s Madison Square Garden to help and aid the people from Bangladesh with all the money raised destined to that cause. Along with Harrison the concert features Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Leon Rusell, Klaus Voormann and an Indian music section by Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan  and a set by the legendary Bob Dylan. The concerts raised close to US$250,000 for Bangladesh relief, which was administered by UNICEF. The event was the first-ever benefit concert of such a magnitude.

La boda de Mawla

La boda de Mawla-cover

Director:  Zoltan Enevold
2009 • 52 Min • Spain | aka The Wedding of Mawla

Mawla is from Bangladesh and lives in Madrid. He has a job and a lot of friends but his dream is to have a family. After seven years he decides to go back to his country for the first time in order to find a bride and get married. La boda de Mawla was awarded the best medium length documentary at the Alcances Film Festival in Spain and was got honored mention at IV ACE Awards in Spain in 2010.


The Devil’s Water

The Devils Water-cover

Director: Amirul Arham Sheikh
2006 • 52 Min • France | aka L’eau du diable

Every day 75 million people in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India consume water contaminated with toxic levels of arsenic. The problem has been ongoing since the late 1970s, when millions of tube wells were installed, throughout the region – unintentionally tapping arsenic tainted groundwater.

In what has been called the worst mass poisoning in human history, the World Health Organization estimates the extent of the human toll now exceeds that of both the Bhopal and Chernobyl disasters. Yet few are aware of the tragedy. Arsenic kills slowly, and its victims are poor, uneducated, and easily dismissed. The tube wells provide what appears to be clean, clear water; yet it is tainted with a tasteless and odorless poison. Millions continue to suffer in silence, slowly dying from cancer and other complications.

The Devil’s Water tells the story of three young women whose lives have been adversely affected by arsenic poisoning. Asma and Nazma are two sisters who have lost their mother to arsenic poisoning, and both suffer serious complications from arsenic themselves. Rekha is a young mother who has been rejected by her husband because of her illness, and is struggling to raise her son. The film captures the personal accounts of their tragedy and loss, set against the backdrop of scientists who examine the cause and effect of the arsenic contamination and attempt to discover a solution.

The Devil’s Water, is a film about what happens when water- the most precious of natural resources – turns deadly. The film is intended to draw world-wide attention to the humanitarian and environmental crisis that arsenic water poisoning poses to both Bangladesh and other afflicted countries around the world.

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