The inspiration behind the ‘Song of Jhinuk’ | Sunday Observer
DIFF 2023 West Meets East Screenplay Lab winner

The inspiration behind the ‘Song of Jhinuk’

26 February, 2023
Illustrations of  ‘Song of Jhinuk’
Illustrations of ‘Song of Jhinuk’

The West Meets East Screenplay Lab was a part of the recently concluded Dhaka International Film Festival 2023 and provided a valuable platform for young filmmakers in South East Asia to develop their skills and take their careers to the next level.

A five-member jury board selected ten projects from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh out of 62 submissions. The selected participants had the opportunity to attend a five-day workshop, pitch their projects, and receive mentorship from industry professionals.

The jury was made up of five members: Gyda Velvin Miklebust, a Norwegian film producer and program director, Dalia Alic, a Croatian film producer, Yana Lekarska, a Bulgarian film director, screenwriter, and journalist, N Rashed Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi film activist and producer and Sameer Ahmed, a film producer and editor. The co-convenors of the WME are filmmaker AKA Reza Ghalib, filmmaker, and screenwriter, film critic Sadia Khalid Reeti.

The Sunday Observer got an opportunity to talk to Afroza Hossain, a self-taught animator and the director of ‘Song of Jhinuk’ which won first prize in the WME screenplay lab, along with a cash prize of $5000. In the interview, Hossain detailed the inspiration behind her upcoming film and her challenging creative process and the future of ‘Song of Jhinuk’.

From childhood passions to adult ambitions

For many artistes, the medium of expression is a tool that allows them to bring their creative ideas to life. For one artiste, animation was the perfect medium for expressing their ideas and storytelling.

Afroza Hossain

Afroza Hossain’s passion for animation and filmmaking can be traced back to her childhood. As a child, she loved drawing and watching cartoons. Films also played a significant role in her decision-making process as a young adult. In 2009 watching the film “3 Idiots”made her decide to move in Dhaka to be an artiste, in 2012, “12 Angry Men” inspired her to pursue art and study films. However, it was watching “Spirited Away” that made her realised that she wanted to become ananimation filmmaker someday.

Inspiration Behind “Song of Jhinuk”

Afroza’s love for natural spaces and whale songs led her to imagine a world that she could fill with her imagination. “I can’t help but crave natural space when the city life overwhelms me. While listening to whale songs, I used to imagine that space in my head. As I closed my eyes and listened to their song, an infinite space appeared before me, which I could fill with whatever I wanted.” she said. However, when she learned about the washed-up whale carcasses on Cox’s Bazar’s seashore, she was inspired to create a story about saving whales and other species.

“Ever since I learned about the washed-up whale carcasses on Cox’s Bazar’s seashore, I’ve been imagining a nightmare in which a whale mother’s mourning song brings about the annihilation of an entire land and species revolving around it. I depict this nightmare in the short film “Song of Whales,” which is now in production phase. As soon as I completed this story on a somber note, I felt compelled to save the whales and others, which is how “Song of Jhinuk” came to be,” she recalled.

The story of “Song of Jhinuk” follows a fisherman’s 10-year-old daughter who travels back in time to save the whales. The film will be created through 2D animation, a mix of hand-drawn and computer animation of approximately 9,000 images, and is estimated to be 90 minutes long.

Children as protagonists

The artiste chose to tell their stories through animation with children as the protagonists because children can relate to simple emotions. “The protagonist of “Song of Jhinuk” is very straightforward: when she loves something,she is willing to do anything for it. I think this emotion is something children can easily understand, and adults who can relate to this emotion may also enjoy watching the film,” she said.

West Meets East Lab experience

Participating in the West Meets East Lab gave Afrozathe enormous opportunity to learn from mentors and industry specialists who have accomplished so much while remaining humble, considerate, and open to new talents. The lab helped her to improve her storytelling skills and allowed her to meet other participants who shared their passion for animation and filmmaking. “WME screenplay lab gave me an enormous opportunity to learn and improve my skills in storytelling.

The jurors and mentors only guided us to understand the scope of improvement needed in our particular projects, but also made sure we continue on our journey by reflecting light on what they found good about our stories. And, being able to meet the other participants in the continent made me feel blessed. I believe that a journey can only get as good as the companions are. And, this has been an amazing journey full of learning, sharing, and dreaming,” she said.

The future of “Song of Jhinuk”

Afroza and her team won the West Meets East Lab, which came with a cash prize that they plan to use to raise additional investments and funds to produce their film. They estimate that it will take until 2026 to complete all the work, but Afroza is excited about the journey ahead. With the opportunity provided by the WME lab and prize money, they can now take their story to the next level and bring it to life on the big screen.

Becoming a filmmaker

Afroza did not consciously decide to become a filmmaker. She found herself constantly daydreaming about the films she would make someday, and before she knew it, it had become a habit. Now, her passion for filmmaking has become so deeply ingrained in her nature that it feels like second nature to her.


Afroza aspires to the filmmaking integrity of Hayao Miyazaki and the decision-making style of Steven Spilberg. “Miyazaki always gives his all from the bottom of his hear, resulting in films that are larger than life. And, in all of his decisions, Spilberg prioritised what the team needed over everything else, ensuring Dreamworks Entertainment’s success. I’m looking forward to finding a way for us to combine both of this maestro’s filmmaking styles and do something wonderful and remarkable,” she added.

Winners, participants, jurors and mentors of WME screenplay lab 2023