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     Volume 7 Issue 24 | June 13, 2008 |

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An Interpretation of Short Films

Srabonti Narmeen Ali

Taimoor N. Sobhan

Taimoor N. Sobhan did not always know that he was going to be a filmmaker. In fact, it was only when he went to Brown University and took a course in world cinema that he developed a strong affinity towards films. While finishing up his degree in Modern Culture and Media from Brown, Sobhan also took a five-week summer course on film in New York University (NYU), further sealing his fate and linking him to the world of film.

Born and brought up in Rome, Italy, the young 'international producer and director for film and television' went to a British school. Among his achievements are various short films, documentaries and even two music videos, produced in the Czech Republic. However, although he is open to all types of film, for the time being he prefers to focus on short films.

"I enjoy watching short films," says Sobhan. "Many students and filmmakers use short films as calling cards, which sometimes does harm. In fact, when you think about it there are many different kinds of narrative and strategies attached to short film. At the same time, I don't want to do short films forever, but I definitely want to explore my options in that area alongside with other projects."

On Wednesday, June 4, Sobhan showcased his skills as both a producer and director at a screening of three short films at the Radius Centre in Bay Galleria in Gulshan.

The first, 'Veils,' is a 12-minute film done in HD format, produced by Sobhan, about a Jewish woman and a Palestinian Muslim man on their wedding days. The film shows the two people trying to get everything together all the while having to deal with disapproving family members.

"I thought that this was an interesting way of dealing with cultural differences," says Sobhan, "and the fact that cultures inside themselves sometimes have the same issues as cultures on the outside. It was also a very interesting way to deal with the political situation in the Middle East without really getting into politics. I was the most impressed with the crew, which was amazing. We had a mix of Jews, Arabs, Lebanese, Egyptian, Bangali, and we were all working together on the same thing. So I guess if there was to be a message I wanted to portray in this film, this would be it."

In the second film at the screening, 'Middle Management,' a 10-minute film done in MiniDV format, Sobhan was the director of photography while his brother, Nader Sobhan was the writer and director of the film. In the film, a man has strange experiences in his office, making him question both his sanity and his reality.

"There are two ways to read into this film," says Sobhan. "The first is that the man is in a mental institution reliving his days at work, and the second is that the man is working in an office which is actually a mental institution. Since we shot this film on DV cam the film had interesting plays on imagery based on reflections and shadows, extensive use of lines and splitting the frame. Behind every shot there was an effect and so there was a lot of emphasis on visual interpretation."

The third film, 'Affect,' a 14-minute film shot in Super 16mm format, was Taimoor's college thesis. In the film, a nurse steals a patient out of the hospital bringing him to her home and finally wheeling him out into the middle of nowhere and faking his murder.

"What was interesting about 'Affect' was that I got such a wide range of great feedback even though I did not expect people of all ages to understand it," says Sobhan. "The truth about this film is that while conceiving the story I had one interpretation, when I started filming I formed another interpretation and finally when I was editing the film I had yet another interpretation. I suppose the main interpretation is that it is a play on euthanasia. Basically, the man's last wish before dying was dying a grander death than just dying in his hospital room. So the nurse played out the imaginary death. He convinced the nurse and set up the whole rig, planning every last detail. The most interesting thing about this film is that it only has two lines throughout the whole film. We wanted to tell the story visually and let the expressions of the actors tell the story."

Since most of Sobhan's work has been done outside of Bangladesh, the main question on everyone's mind is whether he is planning on doing any films in or about Bangladesh.

"Right now I am working on a few projects in Bangladesh," says Sobhan. "In fact, I came here to do some research on my next project, a drug rehabilitation centre in Savar called Apon Gaon. The interesting thing about this rehab centre is that they take all sorts of people, from children off the street to heroin addicts. There are people from all classes and all ages there and they all live there together. I should be coming back in a month to start this project."

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