Understanding human rights through film: “The Clay Bird”

The third installment of the Human Rights Film Series is screened in Konover Auditorium Tuesday afternoon. Titled "The Clay Bird", filmmaker Catherine Masud gives a talk discussing religion and diversity in Bangladesh during it's fight for independence from Pakistan. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

Over the span of the semester, the Human Rights Institute has shown three different films related to the topic of human rights. The film series, which took place in Konover Auditorium, featured two documentaries and one work of fiction. The final installment of this film series was “The Clay Bird” (“Matir Moina”) which also featured a post-film discussion led by UConn students centering on the divided identity and representations of Islam in both the film and the United States.

“The Clay Bird” takes place in Pakistan during the late 1960’s before the War of Liberation. This film follows the family of the young Anu, who are forced to deal with the political events of the time. Anu’s father and uncle represent the differing ideals of the time, his father committed to a more traditional lifestyle and his uncle representing the growing secularist ideal of the time. Anu is sent to a madrassa to study Islam by his father, and during the course of his education his family is struck by tragedy when his sister dies of an unknown illness. The viewer watches as the events of this film ultimately lead up to the War of Liberation.

After the film was concluded, a student panel moderated by the film maker Catherine Masud took to the stage to discuss their opinions and interpretations of the film. The student panel was comprised of Farzana Zubair, Rubayet Lasker, and Shaheer Hassan. These three students were the children of immigrants and were all very active across campus. Each member of the student panel articulated their interpretations of the film, and made connections to the events of the film. After the initial questions asked by the moderator, the floor was opened up the members of the audience. Most audience members asked the student panelists questions while a few spoke of their own personal experiences.

Nicole Rincone, a 5th semester Communication major, stressed the importance of these sort of events here at UConn, stating “I like how UConn provides the Asian American Cultural Center and events like this where you can really get a look into Asian-American culture.” Rincone felt that, as the daughter of Columbian immigrants, she could relate to what the student panelists had to say, stating that “Within the past couple of years, like they said, it’s really about understanding other marginalized people and how the Asian-American experience is similar to the Latino experience. It’s about understanding similarities and embracing the differences between cultures.”

The final film put on by the Human Rights Institute provided an insight onto the events leading up to Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan. The students who participated in the post-showing panel were able to deepen the audiences understanding on the events articulated in the film while also tying them to issues in their personal lives. The film and the discussion that followed left each member of the audience with a broader understanding of the issues articulated by “The Clay Bird” and the student panelists.


Lauren Brown is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lauren.brown@uconn.edu.