Bangladeshi filmmaker Rezwan Shahriar Sumit has been awarded with a $100,000 grant for winning the Alfred P Sloan Foundation Production Award at the Sloan Film Summit 2017, which took place from October 27-29 at the Japanese American National Museum in Downtown Los Angeles, US.
The news of his recent achievement was first made public via a Facebook post from his production company’s page “mypixelstory.com” on November 11.
Sumit was in Los Angeles to officially launch “A New Prophet” at the triennial Sloan Film Summit 2017, invited by Film Independent. The film is a drama written and directed by him, which features Javed, a young techie, who finds his life stuck in limbo when he tries to bring his broken family together using virtual reality.
Dhaka Tribune’s Showtime got in touch with Sumit to talk about his recent achievement.
"My project underwent over a year of evaluation, passing through various stages of development from synopsis to treatment to production plan to script. I still can't believe I made it this far with a story set in Bangladesh! A story that tells how science and tech can change people's lives, for better or worse,” he said.
Talking about the production grant, Sumit added: “I would like to thank Sloan for being the first ones to believe in my project's potential.
“Any independent filmmaker knows how difficult it is to get an international grantmaker to say 'yes' to a project - regardless of who is attached to it, or how developed the script is.”
Sumit is optimistic about his second project and said: “I am thrilled beyond words. Looking forward to an exciting collaboration with artists, techies, scientists from home and beyond!"
Born and raised in Dhaka, Sumit’s film “City Life,” a docu-drama which he had shot entirely on a friend's handy-cam, earned him a place at the prestigious Berlinale Talents 2008 as an up-and-coming director. Since then, his shorts have been presented at various international film festivals and were distributed worldwide by many organisations.
He moved to New York in 2012 to attend the Graduate Film Program at NYU Tisch School as a Tisch fellow, becoming the first Bangladeshi to graduate with an MFA from the film program of the institute. His thesis, “Dios Nunca Muere,” is a film set in upstate New York and stars Mexican Ariel Winner Monica Del Carmen in the lead.
Sumit's first feature length script, “Nonajoler Kabbo - The Salt in Our Waters” won Bangladesh's National Film Grant in 2017, awarding prize money of $62,500, and a writing grant from Director Spike Lee in 2016. The film was also invited to the Film Bazaar's Co-Production Market in 2016, where it generated considerable buzz.
The filmmaker plans to go into production in the summer of 2018 and is currently raising funds for the shoot of his next production.
In a recent Facebook status from his official profile, filmmaker Amitabh Reza Chowdhury congratulated Sumit for his success and said that his production house “Half stop down will be a proud production partner for your first project - ‘Nonajoler Kabbo.’”
The Alfred P Sloan Foundation, which has been awarding production and screenwriting grants to filmmakers since 1997, aims to influence the next generation of filmmakers to tackle the themes and characters of science and technology.