PRODS Heino Deckert, Carlotta Mastrojanni, Brian Hill
SCR/CAM Giovanni Giommi
ED Fabio Capalbo
MUS Ursula Schifflein
PROD CO ma.ja.de. filmproduktion / Cornbread Films / Century Films / ZDF
What appears at first to be a fairly routine documentary about female sex workers in an isolated Bangladeshi community gradually turns into an unflinching, near-Breughelian vision of a brothel island whose very existence is threatened by rising sea levels and devastating storms. Fluid and poised cinematography and editing, and an extraordinary colour palette anchor Giovanni Giommi’s unforgettable and humane portrait of the ostracized yet remarkably spunky women and children who endure there.
Banishanta is a tiny island—100 metres long and a third as wide—off the coast of South Bangladesh. Women, driven here by hardship and/or a search for love, are clearly unaware of the appalling living conditions. Director Giommi lived on the island for some time, getting to know the women and the diverse themes in play. As he says, "The different characters took the film in different directions and this allowed me to explore themes such as love, sadness, money, as well as the looming threat of climate change… All these things impact on the lives of the inhabitants of Banishanta…"
The director allows the women to speak for themselves and we hear of both their plights and their dreams. The village has its own Imam and comes complete with a schizophrenic who acts as a poetic prophet of doom with his predictions of a flood of biblical proportions that will wash away the world, a fate that some of the inhabitants appear positively to seek. A humane and moving film.