Sourav Sarangi: Bilal

Bilal is a boy, whose parents are blind and have a hard life in a poor area of Calcutta. For a year the director has followed the little boy stumbling into the world as any other child does, who is not born with a silver spoon in hand. He has a smaller brother, who has to suffer from some beatings of the older Bilal, as small brothers normally do. It is laughter and crying, shouting and teasing, and learning in school and at home, where the blind parents do an unbelievingly beautiful job to bring up two seeing children. The father had a phone booth close to home, but it was closed and he ended up having heavy debt but they cope, probably due to help from the family that lives – literally – next door, and due to the return to serving a public street phone seems to happen.

The director manages to lift this film from being just-another-film-about-poverty to something universal about childhood to identify with, told from a humanistic point of view, where you can not help fall in love, as the director did, with the boy who ends the film having a circumcision done – ”they cut my dick”, he says to his father. Banal you might say, yes it is, as the observational documentary is at its best. With a calm rythm where you almost sense the days just going on and on, as they do for a child and his family. And thematically I got to think about the trilogy about Apu, by Satyayit Ray. I wish all the best for Bilal, and please follow him with the camera in the years to come!

The film had its premiere at idfa 2008. Supported by Jan Vrijman Fund and YLE.

India, 2008, 92 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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