Gateway: Living

Gig Harbor couple makes film celebrating Bangladeshi artist

The documentary “Threads” tells the story of Surayia Rahman, an artist in Bangladesh who practices and teachers an ancient style of embroidery called kantha. In teaching the style, she provided work for hundreds of poor women.

Her story and the stories of the other women will be screened at Agnes Dei Lutheran Church of Gig Harbor beginning at 7 p.m. Nov. 5. Admission is free, but donations are welcomed.

The money raised will help the filmmakers fund the dubbing of the film into the Bangla language so it can be shown in Rahman’s country.

“Threads” screened at festivals in North America and Europe and is now coming to the peninsula, the place the filmmakers call home. It was the audience choice documentary at the 2014 Gig Harbor Film Festival and also earned selections at the Chicago South Asian, Seattle South Asian and Friday Harbor film festivals.

The Gig Harbor screening will include a discussion with husband-and-wife filmmakers Leonard Hill and Cathy Stevulak, who live in Gig Harbor. The couple spent the years 2001 to 2003 in Bangladesh, where they met Rahman and purchased some of her art.

“It was only a number of years later that the idea of making a film occurred,” Hill said.

With some of Rahman’s art on display, an art professor in Canada talked to Stevulak and Hill about Rahman’s story. They felt it needed to be told, and that’s how the idea of a film came about.

“We just felt absolutely compelled to find a way to make a film about these women,” Stevulak said.

For Stevulak and Hill, it’s fitting that the film is returning to Gig Harbor for a screening. It’s a thank you to the community for its support of the film.

Rahman herself was able to see a version of the film about 18 months ago, Stevulak said. These days, the elderly Rahman is confined to her bed, her health failing.

“We were very, very fortunate that we started the film when we did,” Stevulak said.

Bringing the film, dubbed, back to Bangladesh is a top priority for Stevulak and Hill. That’s why Agnes Dei signed on to help raise money. The goal is to show the women making the kantha art how appreciated they are. Their embroidery work is renowned, and pieces by Rahman are even included in the United Kingdon’s Royal Collection.

Agnes Dei Lutheran Church is located at 10511 Peacock Hill Ave., Gig Harbor.

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155