Documentary film screening and panel discussion with director Sohel Rahman and human rights activist Nickey Diamond
Organised by RePLITO/GAMS in collaboration with Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, 23.06.2023.
Sohel Rahman’s feature-length documentary „The Ice Cream Sellers“ („75“) tells the story of two young siblings and the survivors of the Rohingya genocide who fled Myanmar for Bangladesh. Amidst trauma and an uncertain future, the film’s two young protagonists, brother and sister, began their new lives with hard work: selling cheap ice cream door-to-door in the world’s largest refugee camp in a desperate attempt to earn enough money to bribe officials for their father’s release from prison in Myanmar. Their seemingly endless journey through the winding alleys of the camp is interspersed with brief encounters with other residents who give the filmmaker glimpses into their stories, with interludes of children playing or people observing their daily tasks. The colourful ice lollies are a beautiful symbol of moments of joy and pleasure in the midst of this devastating human tragedy.
Shot with a handheld camera, the film invites the viewer to become part of the children’s journey through the refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, just as the director himself was invited and given intimate access to their life journey.
The well-attended screening at the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung was followed by a discussion between director Sohel Rahman and human rights activist and PhD scholar Nickey Diamond. Sohel is a filmmaker, writer and producer of Bangledeshi origin currently based in Lisbon, Portugal. His films have been screened at various international film festivals and universities around the world. He received the Best Documentary Award at the 2021 South Asian Film Festival in Montreal, Canada, and at the Tasveer South Asian Film Festival in Seattle for „The Ice Cream Sellers“, which he shot, edited and produced all by himself. In the audience discussion, he shared how intensive research and a long process of building trust eventually led to this film. Sohel approaches filmmaking from both an artistic and humanitarian perspective, incorporating his knowledge of literature, anthropology and life experiences.
He also announced a follow-up film he is currently working on, in which he revisits the camp.
Nickey added background on the current socio-political scenario in Myanmar, which has changed with the military coup of 2021. With the increasing atrocities now spreading from the discriminated minorities to the majority Burmese population, he hoped for more empathy and solidarity with the Rohingya and other minorities. Several questions from the audience addressed the question of how films can make a difference and a lively discussion developed about the international visibility of humanitarian crises and ways to show solidarity.