Today I saw a documentary film (along with few new friends of mine) at Busboys & Poets (5th & K sts branch). This event was sponsored by Drishtipat DC, one branch of a non-profit organization that promotes Bangladeshi culture. This docu (which will be part of a trilogy about Bangladesh) was very timely, informative, and thought-provoking.
“Portrait of Jihad”, the latest documentary by renowned filmmaker, Shahriar Kabir, depicts the advent of Islamic militancy in secular Bangladesh. In this expose, he interviews members of Harkatul Jihad and other militant groups and unmasks their involvement with state machinaries.
Now, some of you may feel fundamentalism is not very common in Bangladesh. That’s a big problem in Pakistan, you have heard. But come on, the mainstream media rarely discusses Bangladesh! Shahriar Kabir interviewed several young Bangladeshi men (in their 20s and 30s) who have travelled to places like Bosnia and Libya to train or carry out acts of terror. A few allowed their faces to be seen; others’ faces were hidden under sunglasses, veils, or shadows.
Over the past 10 years or so, I have heard many comments about Bangladesh becoming “more conservative” and “less friendly” from former students, relatives, and friends. These folks hail from different backgrounds and visited different regions within the country. One of my old college friends (who was born/raised in BD) commented that when she went to her ancestral village (in 2002), the ladies in her family “had to cover up more.” Otherwise, they’d get “long/mean stares” from some locals. Not everyone , she added, but some young men noticebaly disapproved.
After the film, the audience got to ask the director, Shahriar Kabir, questions related to the film. Kabir, a soft-spoken man in his 60s, has screened this film in several universities in the NY/NJ area, and will be traveling to Houston tomorrow. Portrait of Jihad will be edited because some material needs to be cleared up and a few subtitles are not correct, Kabir said.
There are some people (expatriots) who don’t want to admit anything is wrong with their country of origin/birth/youth. They see “the old country” as a faraway dream-world where nothing changes. Since many left decades ago, their vision of their homeland is not very realistic. People are simple, pure/honest, and in freeze-frame. This is not true, of course.
When our van got a flat tire on the way from Chittagong to Cox’s Bazaar, we got out to see the scenery of a little village while an uncle and his driver went to buy a spare tire. We met a young man and little boy (who looked less than 12 y.o.) selling tea and snacks by the road. An aunt asked the boy (she can speak the Chittagong dialect) why he wasn’t in school. He matter-of-factly said that he’d gone to school until the 5th grade, but now there was none for him to attend (except the local madrassa school). His parents didn’t want him to go to that school (probably because they knew he wouldn’t learn anything useful there). Or perhaps they feared negative religious influences?
In madrassas (as some of you may know), the focus is on reciting and memorizing the Koran. This is not necessarily a negative thing, and all madrassas are not connected to fundamentalism, extremism, or terrorism. But the kids who attend these schools are not learning a skill or trade to get a job in the real world. The people who run these schools fail to see the plain truth- not all kids can become scholars! Even in the US, it’s very difficult to become a scholar (get a PhD, become a full professor, publish articles, etc.) A very small percentage of the boys in madrassas will be able to get scholarships for further study (college). But what will happen to the others? What will be their future?
Shahriar Kabir is a Bangladeshi journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist. He is the author of more than 70 books focusing on human rights, communalism, fundamentalism, history, and the Bangladesh war of independence. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his contribution to Bengali literature. Shahriar Kabir has been imprisoned twice for protesting against government-sponsored minority persecution and was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
Most kids/teens I’ve known DON’T want to follow in the footsteps of their parents. They want to see what ELSE is out there. Maybe they fear comparison? In Hollywood, an actor can be typecast just like that. It is crucial to get work (only about 3% of actors are currently work in their chosen business), BUT also important to keep your head on your shoulders. Below are some show business families who are making it work, both on and offscreen!
Actor Lloyd Bridges (1913-1998) co-starred in classic Westerns (like “High Noon” w/ Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly), worked on successful comic films and various TV series (Sea Hunt,Seinfeld, etc.) and perhaps most remarkable of all- raised a family under Hollywood’s glare. He and his wife Dorothy (deceased as of February 2009), an actress and poet, had a long marriage and 3 children. Lloyd Bridges’ acting ranged from very natural to comic. He was even considered for the role of Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek TV series!
“My dad was sort of the front man – he was out there getting public attention. But my mom was behind the scenes, sort of holding the whole thing together… She was such a creative person and inspired us all to be creative,” Jeff Bridges said about his parents.
Though the Bridges family has an “All-American” image, Lloyd Bridges’ career was in jeopardy when he became involved with the Communist Party in the 1950s. Later on, he helped found a theater in the Catskills Mountains; he and his wife met in college and started their careers in theater.
Beau, his eldest son
Beau Bridges may be known to younger audiences as a pleasant, father-figure in recent TV movies/series. As a young man, he was a NBA hopeful, served 8 years in the Coast Guard, and starred opposite many other respected actors. Like his father and younger brother, he has the ease of a natural actor. If Beau is in a movie, he”ll certainly class it up!
If you want to see Beau’s best work, you’ll have to check out films from the ’70s and ’80s.
Jeff Bridges, his younger son
Okay, I realize that the above picture is cheesy, but it’s also SUPER-HOT! Jeff Bridges is an actor that I NEVER get tired of seeing! He is the Hollywood total package: tall, great hair/smile/body AND the ability to pull viewers in (“the X factor”). Pauline Kael, a very noted AND tough film critic, called Jeff’s acting “natural and believable.”
Not many guys can stand up to a powerhouse like Barbra Streisand! In interviews, Jeff seems like the quintessential easygoing Californian. Like his clan, he has a GREAT love for the environment, swimming, and surfing. Jeff is also a capable horseman; you can see from some of his films.
Jeff has been in big budget and small/quirky films throughout his long career. He played a youthful/charming president opposite Joan Allen in the political drama, The Contender. Probably the coolest film prez since Morgan Freeman… Most fathers want their sons to surpass them, and arguably Jeff has done just that!
Jordan, his grandson (Beau’s son)
Jordan Bridges is a young (35 y.o.) actor who’s appeared in theater, TV, and films.
He had a co-starring role in the NBC legal drama, Conviction. Though this NYC-based series was short-lived, Jordan’s character was quite interesting. He played a young, wealthy, and sheltered ADA from the Upper East Side. Instead of joining his family’s firm, this young attorney wanted to serve the public. Crime hit home when he gets robbed and badly beaten just a few blocks from his old neighborhood.
Kirk Douglas has had a fascinating life. He is the American-born son of immigrant Russian Jews. His parents were illiterate, he grew up very poor, and worked from a young age. It’s noted that he got into college b/c of his wrestling skills and smooth talk/charm. These qualities didn’t hurt in Hollywwod either!
Douglas worked in the “golden age” of Hollywood, so when you watch his acting, it looks effortless. Amazing for his day, he NEVER got typecast! His slightly unusual (yet still handsome) looks and strong screen presence opened the door; Douglas played heroes, villains, and characters with various shades of gray.
Michael, his son
In a documentary film, Michael Douglas (who shares a strong physical resemblance to his father) admitted to being apprehensive about following in his father’s footsteps. Instead of simply auditioning for leading-man roles, he tried out for character parts that would enable him to distinguish himself from the strong pack of male actors of late ’70s and ’80s.
If you look closely, you see that BOTH father and son play strong-willed/determined men characters especially well. Also, there is ALWAYS an air of mystery about these actors! Next up for Michael: a sequesl to the hit film, Wall Street.
Veteran Brit actor James Fox was born into an acting family. He is perhaps known to American audiences from The Remains of the Day (opposite Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson), Anna Karenina (opposite Sophie Marceau and Sean Bean), and various lavish period dramas. Like many of his generation, he started in the theater (as did his elder brother). He had a quirky role in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (opposite Johhny Depp) recently.
Edward Fox, his elder brother
There’s probably little sibling rivalry since BOTH brothers have been awarded the Order of the British Empire! Edward is known for his TV work (Daniel Deronda), but he also appeared in The Bounty, Gandhi, Nicholas Nickelby, etc.
Laurence, his son
Laurence Fox is one of MANY fine young (just 31 y.o.) Brit actors working today. Like his father and uncle, Laurence has a tall (6’3″)/lanky build and a way with cool/cerebral characters. The actor has tackled quirky roles with grace and sensitivity, such as that of the repressed, yet oddly sympathetic, Mr. Wisley (Becoming Jane).
Laurence has appeared in Gosford Park and guest-starred on a variety of UK series (including Foyle’s War). He also got married 2 yrs ago (to singer/actress Billie Piper) and is the father of a baby son. Currently, Laurence plays DS James Hathaway, the brainy/mysterious partner of the title character in Inspector Lewis.
Emilia Fox, his niece (daughter of Edward)
Emilia Fox (now age 35) will forever be loved by fans of the 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice miniseries. She played the waifish/sweet/shy Georgiana Darcy, the devoted little sister of Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth). Emilia has been acting consistently since leaving Oxford; she met her hubby while working in a play. Next up for Emilia: Dorian Gray (opposite Ben Barnes and Colin Firth, her P&P big brother).
Veteran actor Sam Waterston is known throughout the world as no-nonsense ADA (now DA) Jack McCoy on the original Law and Order TV series. In the ’90s, he played some memorable film fathers (The Man in the Moon opposite a VERY young Reese Witherspoon and the TV series I’ll Fly Away.) However, there is much more than meets the eye to this fine actor.
Waterston has a penchant for playing bright, forthright, and honorable individuals; he attended prep school, Yale, and the Sorbonne. He gained experience in the theater before films/TV. In 1973, Sam acted opposite Hollywood legend Katherine Hepburn in The Glass Menagerie. In 1974, Sam co-starred with Mia Farrow and Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby; he was the thoughtful/observant narrator, Nick Carraway.
Sam played a real-life journalist in the critically acclaimed 1984 film, The Killing Fields. His family can traced back to the Mayflower; he has worked on several projects about Abraham Lincoln. Besides being a great actor, I like how Sam Waterston chooses intelligent and though-provoking projects!
James, his son
Father & son after a Broadway play
James is primarily a theater actor on the East Coast. But he has also guest-starred on several Law & Order shows.
I heard this young actress, recently out of college, on a radio interview a few months ago. She commented how Sam chose to raise his family out in the country to keep them away from the drama of NYC or Hollywood. She played Miranda, the innocent teen daughter of Prospero (Mandy Patinkin) in a new version of The Tempest on Broadway. Elisabeth received good reviews.