From “Say Boat” thru “Ship of Fools” to “Immense,” if a undeniable strain of Hollywood melodrama has taught us anything, it’s that all of human lifestyles is to be learned on a passenger boat — our goals and desires and social differences by hook or by crook made clearer at some distance from dry land. Bangladeshi filmmaker Kamar Ahmad Simon applies powerful the identical philosophy to his comely documentary “Day After …,” albeit with the accompanying glamour eradicated. Boarding a creaky, century-frail glide steamer for a two-day river shuttle from the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka to the country’s Khulna website, Simon paperwork the hasten with each and each geographical and sociopolitical fascination, gripping in the scenery whereas wryly looking out at the tangle of lessons, castes and persona types on deck.
The free, though-provoking consequence is equal aspects slack travelogue, observational social discover about and humorous exact-lifestyles comedy of errors, and premiered in competition at IDFA to an eager target audience reception. Arriving 9 years after Simon’s final theatrical documentary, “Are You Listening!” — a discover about of a crew convalescing from ruinous flooding that won high honors at Cinéma du Réel — “Day After …” is the second section of a loosely defined “water trilogy,” and would possibly honest to find essential steam on the competition circuit. Distribution skill is additionally sturdy, even though seemingly in streaming formats that won’t originate total justice to the movie’s rough-edged widescreen spectacle.
Which isn’t to claim that is touristic Nationwide Geographic fare, alternatively comely the Ganges Delta views we consume in along the vogue. Even though the outdated-long-established boat (named the Rocket, a moniker we soon to find does no longer consult with its gallop) encompasses a handful of European and American vacationers on board, Simon’s mobile, inquisitive camera pays them no more particular ideas than it does the the rest of the passengers. From a native point of view, the exact-lifestyles ensemble of “Day After …” is a social unsuitable-section of up to date Bangladesh, working the gamut from influential politicians to the impoverished and disabled — divided, truly, by rate class all the design thru the Rocket’s multiple decks and compartments.
With filming having taken set almost at this time earlier than the country’s 2018 national elections — traditional radio news snippets clue us in to the temper of a inhabitants bristling over economic strife and governmental corruption — there’s stress in that diversity. Passengers restricted to the low-price seats vocally bristle over the segregation: “Is my poop diversified from that of the cabin passengers?” one in every of them asks to camera as he breaks tainted to consume the “higher” lavatory. Class politics surface in each and each aspect of The Rocket’s day-to-day operations, whether it’s staff tasting the actual menu devised for the politician and his entourage or the cranky captain using “servant-born” slurs to admonish the skippers of 1 other vessel blocking the river.
That’s one in every of a vivid substitute of barriers and mishaps that the Rocket encounters on its design, as every thing from heavy fog to stifling mud conspires to delay its planned two-day hasten. (The movie’s critically vague, awkwardly punctuated title alludes to this inexact timeline.) The captain takes any holdup in scurry: “The first-class passengers can skills town tour,” he says with a shrug, “whereas the third class suffers all the design thru the set.” Both groups gain the absolute most reasonable of the problem in diversified ways, as Simon’s check roves from rich girls in vivid hijabs taking selfies on the deck to a destitute, blind busker filling the time with improvised track.
The filmmaker’s camera isn’t the handiest one on board, as “Day After …” inclusively expands its stare to incorporate the reportage of others — whether it’s a crew of gutsy Bangladeshi journalism students securing an interview in the politician’s deepest cabin (and eviscerating his responses once out of earshot) or a resourceful young YouTuber capturing his have video diary of the hasten, his footage usually woven into the movie’s busy cloth. (His strive and delivery a drone provides one blissfully pure moment of slapstick amid more severe goings-on.) Within the meantime, the Western vacationers additionally gain makes an strive to doc the time out, snapping away at their fellow vacationers with a blithe condescension by no design say their own praises in this appropriate-humored however conscientious movie. One native passenger is bemused by what she sees as Simon’s “random filming,” noting the absence of the hero and heroine that, in her stare, any exact movie wants. On the Rocket, in fact, she would possibly consume her consume.