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Documentary: Sand And Water

Documentary: Sand And Water

What would it be like to live in a world which alternates between seasonal flooding and extreme winter drought? That’s the fragile world that the Chaura people live in, the subject of Maori Television’s Sunday night documentary SAND AND WATER (Sunday February 20 at 9.00 PM).

The Chaura live on the Char Islands in the middle of the Jamuna River, a delicate ecosystem in northern Bangladesh nicknamed ‘The Deadly Paradise’. During monsoon season (June to September), the river floods nearly the entire district, eroding the small Char islands and creating new ones elsewhere. In winter, the region turns into a desert-like landscape with a dire shortage of water.

Battling with the whims of nature, the Chaura have learned to cope with the “moods” of Jamuna. On the one hand, the fertile islands provide them with their livelihood, and on the other, they are at the mercy of climactic extremes.

The people remain light-hearted despite their constant struggle in a world of turbulent natural conditions. For the past two centuries they have made the Char Islands their home, and few have a desire to leave.

SAND AND WATER was produced by Shaheen Dill-Riza, a Bangladeshi film activist educated in Germany. Using ancient mythology and stylish photography, he presents a portrait of happiness in his homeland, often depicted as a tragic land afflicted by floods.

“I tried to describe this fragile world from a personal point of view using poetic images,” says Dill-Riza. “It is a world where people still try live with nature in spite of its cruel violence.”

SAND AND WATER screens on Maori Television on Sunday February 20 at 9.00 PM.

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