Bangladesh, France | 2022 | 84 min
Language : Bengali
Subtitles : English, French
Humaira Bilkis has a problem: after a pilgrimage to Mecca, her mother, who was previously an emancipated poet, has now become devout. The filmmaker has to fight to get her to accept the camera, since her religion forbids images, while hiding her relationship with a Hindu man from Calcutta. Her film plays out like a closed-door documentary, spot-on and moving.
Flowering mustard fields, humming with joyful children’s cries. This opening sequence to Things I Could Never Tell My Mother, with its Bollywoodian range of colours, is suffused with the “scent of freedom”. The freedom that the filmmaker’s mother has celebrated in her poems. In the past. When, against the conventions of Bangladeshi society, she bequeathed her name to her daughter. But Khaleda Bilkis has changed a lot since her pilgrimage to Mecca. She sometimes wants to burn the family photo album! Here she is appearing in shot, intoning that her religion forbids images, and condemning her daughter’s profession, which consists of creating them. This relative iconoclasm, however, does not prevent her from following cricket matches or films on television, while her daughter must fight to have the presence of her camera accepted. Humaira Bilkis must also hide from her parents her romantic relationship with a Hindu man who wants to marry her. Then along comes the lockdown in the parental apartment in Dacca to reshuffle the cards of tenderness and family ties over the course of a documentary huis clos that is as genuine as it is moving.