Rickshaw Girl

Rickshaw Girl echoes Mulan as the story of a young girl who, because of her patriarchal culture’s traditions, must disguise herself as a boy to support her family after her father falls ill. Naima becomes a rickshaw driver in the chaotic city of Dhaka. Director Amitabh Reza Chowdhury frames the city with an exciting, pulsating energy pace, making the environment an important part of the film. The rickshaw environment is dangerous and aggressive, and the challenges she faces there force Naima to question her role in her family and as a young woman.

Naima transforms her bland Bangladesh surroundings with vibrant paintings on walls, her rickshaw, and other surfaces. Her sari costumes are just as bright as the pictures she makes. Chowdhury manifests Naima’s artistic dreams in fantastical animated sequences with eye-popping colors. These creative montages where Naima’s imagination bleeds into the real world are the highlights of the film.

Novera Rahman’s spirited performance as Naima carries the film; she crafts a well-rounded young girl with determination, artistic passion, and childlike vulnerability. Rickshaw Girl is an empowering narrative for young girls. Naima’s strength and resourcefulness are inspiring to watch, as well as her journey to understanding the world around her. Rickshaw Girl follows familiar coming-of-age beats, but its vibrant atmosphere, uplifting narrative, and strong lead performance make the film soar.


There is a trend in contemporary films, such as Triangle of Sadness and The Menu, to critique the rich and their capitalistic greed. In the short film Day9 written by Damion Stephens and directed by Dastan Khalili, Charles Maze plays an aging millionaire named J.D. Dorboth who hires four people (played by Will Lupardus, Eric McIntire, Kelcey Watson, and Johanna Watts in taut performances) to dig for buried treasure in the sweltering desert. Dorboth promises to reward his laborers no matter the outcome, but he pushes them to the edge of their sanity by giving them little to eat or drink and cruelly insulting them. 

Khalili frequently uses split diopter shots, pushing the characters’ faces close to the screen to convey the immense pressure they feel. The desert backdrop is vast and beautiful, but it’s filmed with a pallid color and offbeat images that amplify the uncomfortable intensity of the situation. 

The pulse-pounding final confrontation is shot in such a way that it puts you right in the middle of the action. These dynamic visuals combined with the suspenseful story make Day9 a biting short that is well worth watching. Khalili masterfully builds the tension to a shocking ending.