Bangla Surf Girls

Never have the stakes and the waves been so high

Bangla Surf Girls In the heart of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, young girls join a local surf club and dare to dream of freedom and escape from a life of drudgery and abuse. Shobe, Aisha and Suma are poised to make history as Bangladesh’s first women surfers in an international surf competition, but society and poverty pose major hurdles. This immersive doc captures the complex pressures of coming of age in a developing country.

 Bangla Surf Girls
(2021) on IMDb


Laurel Accolade Global Film Competition 2021 | Winner | Accolade Award
Laurel Hot Docs 2021 | Official Selection
Laurel Newport Film Festival 2021 | Official Selection
Laurel European Union Film Festival 2021 | Official Selection
Laurel Oakville Festival of the Arts 2021 | Winner | Best Feature
Laurel Portuguese Surf Festival 2021 | Winner | Women in Surf Award
Laurel New Hope Film Festival 2021 | Official Selection
LaurelBushwick Film Festival 2021 | Best Feature Documentary
LaurelVancouver Asian Film Festival 2021 | Best Film for a Canadian Feature and Best Director Award
LaurelCoronado Island Film Festival 2021 | Best Documentary Feature and Fearless Female Filmmaker Award
LaurelInternational Ocean Film Festival 2022 | Winner | Best First Time Filmmaker
Laurel London Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2022 | Official Selection

 Bangla Surf Girls
(2021) on IMDb

The Producers

Elizabeth D. Costa - Director / Cinematographer

Elizabeth D. Costa is an emerging talent from Bangladesh whose skills in documenting intimate images are evident in her first feature documentary, BANGLA SURF GIRLS. For over eight years Elizabeth has worked as a producer, director, assistant producer, editor and cameraperson. Recently she completed two projects for SBS Dateline, and Big Blue Communications.

Elizabeth participated in the Film Independent Lab 2020 and the Chicken and Egg Accelerator Lab 2017. She is an alumnus of the IDFA academy. She began her career as an script supervisor intern for Tareque and Catherin Masud in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She has worked for BBC Media Action, NOS Televisions, VICE News UK, Spanish TV, and Bloomberg TV. She also worked as assistant producer with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy on “A Journey of 1000 Miles: Peacekeepers”. Elizabeth is the Communications Advisor for the United Nations Development Programme which works to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities and exclusion in nearly 170 countries.

Lalita Krishna - Producer / Writer

For over 20 years, Lalita Krishna has been producing and directing documentaries that have screened on major networks in Canada and at film festivals around the world. Lalita’s documentaries have been acclaimed for foregrounding important issues and catalysing change. Throughout her career Lalita has mentored emerging talent through the DOC Institute’s programmes, which she helped to found. Passionate about diversity and inclusivity, Lalita’s documentaries reflect her strong belief in empowering local filmmakers to authentically tell stories.

Lalita’s most recent feature documentary “Fear of Dancing” follows a chorophobe as he travels around the world confronting his worst nightmare. Her documentary “Untying the Knot”, which follows the survivor of brutal domestic assault, premiered on CBC in November 2019. “Listen to Me” was awarded Best Feature Doc at Real World 2015 and follows the story of a survivor of child abuse who uses expressive arts therapy to help young women deal with domestic violence.

Making The Film

Statement from Lalita Krishna - Producert

In 2014, director Elizabeth D. Costa was on vacation in Cox’s Bazar when she noticed very young girls carrying surfboards and running into the water. She was curious, and was soon introduced to Rashed Alam, the founder of the Surf Club. They quickly became friends, and Elizabeth visited the club several times before the germ of an idea formed in her head. She mentioned the idea to me, and we decided it was a story that needed to be told. Rashed had received several requests from media outlets, but Elizabeth convinced him she was different.

The documentary we planned was a true documentation of how an activity like surfing had the potential to change the futures of a whole generation of girls. We both knew the risks involved but we also knew that in order to get something really unique and different we had to commit to the project for a period of time. We had to make it truly observational and get the girls to tell their own stories because we knew that voices of young girls from Bangladesh are never heard in the media.

The entire process was collaborative from the start. It was important to both to capture the arc of each of the girls’ lives, and learn their backgrounds and complex relationships with their families. Over the course of filming, Elizabeth often stayed with the girls, capturing the challenges and highlights of their days, until they soon forgot the camera and began confiding in her. The footage was sent to Canada, where I viewed it and worked with editors to shape the story. We talked regularly and we both feel very fortunate to have been involved in this collaborative model, which blurred the boundaries of our roles in the production.

We had many challenges and there were days when we didn’t know if we’d be able to carry on, but we realized that the lives of these girls are so fragile and their circumstances are so dire that we couldn’t let them down. That’s what gave us the motivation to persevere. The girls were willing to fight and not give up. So how could we?

We took a lesson from them: you have to work hard to achieve something and if you do, you can reach great heights.

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