The history behind the making of this film has been a personal journey for me. I grew up hearing the heroic and harrowing stories of the Liberation War. When I was 17, my father, a freedom fighter in the War, told me about the Birangona women. The women he saw had been captured by the Pakistani forces and their local collaborators and held in rape camps. He told me he had witnessed hundreds of women and girls standing back-to-back on a convoy of trucks, like sacrificial animals.
That image stayed with me forever.
In 2013, I travelled to Bangladesh to work on a play about the Birangona women. Time after time, audiences would comment on how shocked they were to discover these women actually existed, how successful society had been in wiping out a history that impacted people - particularly women - alive today. But I felt deep in my heart it was not enough.
I began this journey to make a film about them. At the end of the journey, I realised that their sharing of their lives and how they have tried to heal has shown me how to find myself and what I am capable of as a woman.
I wanted to see these women on their own terms, beyond labels and statistics. They are real women: someone’s daughter, or sister, or mother, or any woman. Each of them had a childhood, and each of them has a name, a story to tell. Four of the women died while we were in the post-production stage of this film.
Their existence, in spite of being ignored and shut out for so long, is a testament to their resilience and their refusal to be diminished. They accepted me with no judgment and with an unconditional love that comes so naturally to them as their way to build their lives. They celebrate experiencing the wonder and beauty of friendship, nature, and music because they never give up on life.