After winning a special mention last year for Television, the Bangladeshi filmmaker returns to DIFF with Ant Story.

Bangladeshi filmmaker Mostofa S. Farooki, who won a special mention for Television at DIFF last year, is returning this year with the world premiere of his latest film Ant Story, which is screening in the Muhr AsiaAfrica competition.

The film revolves around a young graduate, Mithu, who dreams of becoming rich but is incompetent and shy. To deal with his impoverished life, he creates a fantasy world where he believes he is a rich man.

How did you get the idea for Ant Story?

I wanted to tell the story of a guy who makes up stories in his mind and starts believing in those stories. I wanted to explore how, to counter the inappropriateness of his real life, he lives in a virtual world that eventually becomes stronger than reality. Ants can carry ten times their own weight but if your dreams become too big for your shoulders, it might create an imbalance. Mithu is a small ant who grows the wings of fantasy.

How similar is it thematically to your previous film?

Philosophically, it is the extension of Television. In Television there was a strong question about which of the two worlds is important: the real world or the imaginary world. In this film, the protagonist defies his real world and embarks on a journey of faking, lying and fantasising which gives him the immense pleasure of creativity because truth is what one has while lies are what one creates.

So is there a theme you are preoccupied with?

Virtual reality. I think we all live in two worlds simultaneously. Let me put it in the context of culture. There is a phrase in Bengali ‘chapa mara’ which literally means ‘fibbing’. It is a favorite pastime of a lot of people. If you go to any tea stall in Bangladesh, people will tell you stories about themselves and their relatives. People actually fib to counter their unfulfilled desires. They are pretty imaginative, they make up different characters and stories according to their wish, and then start believing in those stories! Mithu is one of them.

Do you see an international audience for this film?

Of course! Stylistically and cinematically, Ant Story can be accessible to anyone. The sense of deprivation and the dream of having a better life are universal.

How does it feel to be back in DIFF Muhr AsiaAfrica competition with Ant Story?

DIFF is one of the best festivals in Asia and the Muhr AsiaAfrica competition has emerged as one of the most sought-after competitions. Films from Cannes, Venice, Berlin all come together here, so it becomes tougher than Cannes or Venice itself. You have to compete with the best of world cinema. It’s good to be a part of such a prestigious competition for the second year in a row.