Chowdhury Asif Jahangir Arko

Asif Jahangir Arko (full name: Chowdhury Asif Jahangir Arko) is an Architect & a Filmmaker. After completing Bachelor in Architecture from BRAC University in 2012, started his own Architecture firm "Studio Tripod" in 2015. Besides doing architectural projects he pursued Filmmaking in 2018. Then studied Filmmaking (direction, cinematography, editing, screenplay) at Pathshala South Asian media institute. Now runs a Media production company "ARK Films" in Dhaka. Won BEST FICTION SHORT FILM for his debut film "DUR-ALAPON" at CELEBRATING LIFE FILM AWARDS 2018 & BEST YOUNG FILMMAKER at NEW YORK FILM AWARDS 2019 for "The Dustbin Connection". Also achieved many national & international honors for his film “LAST WISH” in 2021 & “KISTIMAAT” in 2022. Learn more about Asif here

Spotlight Interview:

What is the story behind your film?
It’s a story about a son trying to get back to life, after his sudden accident & untimely death... to fulfill his mother's only dream. The film is dedicated to my mother Dr. Zebunnessa Parvin, who is a single mother, raising two sons. So, the idea of the mother-son dynamic obviously was something quite personal for me. Also the story is about the aspirations & dreams of a to-be architect & his struggles to achieve those, which as an architect myself, I can relate to very well.

What should people take away, gain, realize after watching your film?
It’s all about standing up and fighting for the right reasons. Sometimes we are unable to understand, what is more important & it is too late, until we realize the worth of things & relations we already have.

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Do you think that films can change people for the better or for the worse?
Every film has its own experience & every watcher is affected by it in their own way. Same one film can have different meaning to different watchers. So films can obviously bring change to people, but for better or worse, that depends on the journey of the watcher itself.

How was the creation of your project at the time of COVID-19?
Shooting during the pandemic was a totally new & different experience for us. We had to delay the production several times. Team members were not available at times. Having permission to shoot outside was an issue. Keeping everyone in the team safe & protected was more important than getting a perfect shot sometimes. But all those complications made us stronger as a team. Everyone gave their best effort in such conditions & we are very proud of the way the film turned out in the end.

What creation style did you use in the production of your project? What cameraman elements did you use?
As the story of the film swings between two different kinds of settings - one is life & the other is afterlife, those had to be distinctly differentiable in both look & feel. I wanted to start the film with the weirder, abnormal & unrecognizable one, the afterlife, which was challenging & difficult. So I had to create an unusual experience for the audience from the very beginning. As the character of Turjo was in the transition phase & not completely a part of the afterlife yet, so his features were not fully absorbed by afterlife & he still had some color of life left in him.

Though the film relies on flashback & after death or dream sequences, the story is more about feeling unfulfilled, unsatisfied or discontent & fighting for another chance to fuifill those remaining dreams, before the imminent ending of life itself. So we just tried to bring... the peaceful yet incomplete, infinite but trapped & lost feel... to the environment for those specific scenes by playing with colours, camera shots, camera angles, framing & movement, to have that uneasy presence.

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How did you select the actors for your project?
‘Last Wish‘ is a film, that is very personal to me & tells a very grounded story. So, I did not want to cast any known actors. I just looked for new faces around me, who could actually relate to the story & play the characters well. Finally casted two of my friends & one of my friends‘ mother as the main characters.

If you could change something in your film, what would it be?
Everything I thought of doing when I first thought of the story & making this film, obviously did not remain the exact same in the end. Like- some filming locations, certain scenes or shots. Still I was able to do most of the things, as I imagined fortunately. Some changes were actually made for better.

Though an art can always be improved, but I myself dont belive in changing things in a project after its done & dusted, cause then it might lose its true essence & not remain the same. So I like my films the way it is & nothing needs to be changed. Any improvement or new learnings, I keep for the next one.

At which festival has your film been screened?
ANS: LAST WISH was screened & awarded in multiple film festivals around the world. Some of those are mentioned below.

‘Best Fantasy Film’ @ NEW YORK FILM AWARDS, JANUARY 2021.
‘Best Asian Fiction Short’ @ CONTINENTAL FILM AWARDS, 2021.
‘Director Short Film-Gold’ @ HOLLYWOOD GOLD AWARDS, 2021.
‘Drama Short Film-Gold’ @ HOLLYWOOD GOLD AWARDS, 2021.
‘Best Fantasy’ @ RED MOVIE AWARDS, JUNE 2021.
‘Short film (Critics’ Choice Award)’ @ WORLD FILM CARNIVAL SINGAPORE, 2021.
‘Short Film (Award of Merit)’ @ BEST SHORTS COMPETITION, JUNE 2021.
‘Fantasy short (Special Mention)’ @ GOLD STAR MOVIE AWARDS, MARCH 2021.
‘Judge’s Special Mention’ @ BEST GLOBAL SHORTS, 2021.
'Best Short Film' @ CULT CRITIC MOVIE AWARDS 2021.
'Best Director' @ CULT CRITIC MOVIE AWARDS 2021.
'Best Film Score / Music' @ CULT CRITIC MOVIE AWARDS 2021.

Which movies are your favorites and why?
I like a lot of differet movies for totally different reasons. The thing that impresses me most in films, is a good story & execution of the core idea. Some of my favourites are: The Prestige, 50 First Dates, The Shawshank Redemption, Life Is Beautiful, Bicycle Thieves etc.

What topics do you like to address in your stories? What is your motivation in making films?
I am someone, who respects the past & my roots too much. Because, all the experience & knowledge I gathered from the past, has brought me to where I am today. Nostalgia & realization, plays important roles in my stories & works, which are inspired from everyday real life experiences & feelings, derived from the heart & speaks of very grounded subjects & topics, with twists of imagination & fiction.

I owe huge credit of my success to my architecture studies. I try to use the knowledge, skills, practices & expertise earned from architecture in life & my filmmaking process, which has helped me a lot & made it easier in learning a new skillset & embracing a new career in filmmaking. I find architecture & filmmaking very similar. Both have similar disciplines, time management, ways of execution, need functional ideas & require same kind of commitment. So I always use my knowledge & experience gained from architecture in filmmaking. The skills, understanding & perspective achieved from architecture studies actually helps me a lot in both my work & personal life. As I love doing both & both comes from my passion of creative work, I don’t feel the extra pressure & find ways to make things work.

I consider myself both equally an architect & a filmmaker. I love practicing architecture. Filmmaking was something new I just wanted to try out & in the process fell in love with. During the production of my first film, I realized & became aware of my weaknesses behind the camera. So immediately got myself admitted & completed diploma courses on filmmaking, direction, screenplay & cinematography. I am still a new & amateur filmmaker, pursuing filmmaking for just about four years. So, still learning & exploring this field. Since then I am trying my best to do something, that I can be proud of & can inspire others, by giving something back to this art form.

Which contemporary filmmakers motivate you the most?
Christopher Nolan as a fimlmaker really inspires & motivates me. I look forward to his films & to experience how he executes different complex topics & new conepts.

What projects do you plan to shoot in the future?
Working on two new film scripts, which should be ready for production around the middle of this year. One of those is ‘Nritya-Bilash‘,on which i am working on for some time.

Lastly, any piece of advice for young filmmakers?
I don’t consider myself as someone, who actually is worthy enough to give advice. But there are a few quotes I can share, which I really believe in & try to follow myself. Like-

“Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.” – Dave Willis

“Strive for progress, not perfection.” – David Perlmutter

“When you talk, you’re only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” – Dalai Lama

“You can’t show everything. If you do, it’s no longer art.” – Robert Bresson

“I failed my way to success.” – Thomas Edison

“You need power, only when you want to do something harmful. Otherwise, love is enough to get everything done.” – Charlie Chaplin


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Last Wish  - A son trying to get back to life, after his sudden accident/death, to fulfill his mother's only dream.  IMDB  |  TRAILER

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