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Gig Harbor filmmakers begin translating ‘Threads’ documentary

Filmmakers Cathy Stevulak and Leonard Hill meet with Surayia Rahman in 2010. Rahman is the artist who is the subject of the couple’s documentary, “Threads,” which is about to start the process of being dubbed into the Bangla language.
Filmmakers Cathy Stevulak and Leonard Hill meet with Surayia Rahman in 2010. Rahman is the artist who is the subject of the couple’s documentary, “Threads,” which is about to start the process of being dubbed into the Bangla language. Kantha Productions LLC

Cathy Stevulak and Leonard Hill, producers of the documentary “Threads,” are moving on to the next stage of their five-year project: bringing the film to the Bangladesh people it features.

This means translating — or dubbing — the film into the Bangla language.

“We look forward to getting (the film) to Bangladesh so the people in it can see it,” Hill said.

“Threads” is a documentary about Bangladesh artist Surayia Rahman, who practices and teaches the traditional kantha method of embroidery.

The film currently features half of the dialogue in English — mostly the narration — and half in Bangla, Stevulak said.

The English version of the film has subtitles to translate the Bangla parts of the film for the audience, but because of the high illiteracy rates in Bangladesh, subtitles are not an option.

The Gig Harbor couple has begun the translating process in Bangladesh with the money raised at an Nov. 5 fundraiser and film screening, held at Angus Dei Lutheran Church in Gig Harbor.

“We’ve been so grateful to the community for their help,” Stevulak said.

The dubbing of the film requires careful editing, Hill said, because the Bangla spoken language is slightly longer than English and the sound still needs to fit within the same time constraint.

The couple plans to complete the translating process in Bangladesh with a local crew and native speakers, which they plan to find by holding auditions and choosing actresses from a pool of applicants.

“We’ll need two or maybe three voices to the the dubbing,” Hill said. “Three is the goal.”

Fundraising efforts are still underway to meet their goal of $5,000, which will cover the cost of translating the film and the airfare for Stevulak and Hill to fly to Bangladesh. Once the dubbing is complete, the couple have been invited to show the film in the capital city of Bangladesh by an organization working in its slums, and have also heard from Bangladesh TV studios interested in showing the documentary.

According to Stevulak, if shown on TV, the documentary would reach about 50 million women.

“This is a very inspirational story we want to be able to tell,” Stevulak said. “(It’s a) celebration of women and how they’ve helped themselves. It’s a great story about what women can do and do together.”

Stevulak said that there is a common narrative that Bangladesh women are victims, which this documentary helps to disprove.

“That is not the whole picture and is often not true,” she said.

This documentary tells a story of resilience and possibility and how women can change lives, especially at home.

“Our main goal is to inspire other artists and artisans to carry on (their) traditions,” Stevulak said.

“Threads” is the first documentary filmed by Stevulak and Hill, who decided on the project after hearing Rahman’s story .

“Her story has inspired us for a long time,” Hill said, adding that film was the best medium to capture both Rahman’s art and her personality.

The documentary was included as part of the global Campaign for Artisan Enterprise, an initiative from the U.S. State Department and the Aspen Institute, which supports an awareness of the importance of artisan skills as a source of employment and income in the developing world.

It was also screened at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., where it was introduced by the Bangladesh ambassador at the Women’s Ways of Making conference.

“We would like to be part of that wave to help inform conscious consumerism in the world,” Stevulak said.

Recently, “Threads” won the Best Short Film award at the Friday Harbor Film Festival, held Nov. 6 to 8.

“We’re really confident that we’ll reach our goal and surpass it,” Stevulak said. “I really think it’s going to happen.”

Hill agreed: “It’s pretty exciting.”

The next public fundraiser and screening of the film will be held at 6:15 p.m. Jan. 6 at the Key Center Library, 8905 Key Peninsula Hwy North.

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea

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