The Most Fearless is a dramatic feature documentary about 16-year-old Nasima and her friends as they grow up on the beautiful but often desperate shores of Bangladesh. Born into poverty and the inevitability of teen marriage, surfing becomes an unlikely refuge for the girls in a country where women don’t even swim in public. Nasima even has the rare chance to become the country’s first genuine surf star. But will Nasima rise above societal pressures - and her own internal obstacles - to follow her dream?
The Most Fearless is not your straight forward sports documentary, surf film, or cultural profile. Though the setting is exotic, this film is a universal coming-of-age story that, at its heart, is a meditation on privilege, power and choice - ultimately the power of choice. Filmed over four years to capture everyday life in this complex, burgeoning surf community, the film hi-lights the clear unfairness of the roles Nasima and her friends have been assigned. The overwhelming poverty and malnutrition. The refugee crisis. The struggle to get an education. The near inevitability of teen marriage and pregnancy.
But as we get to know each character - from the more privileged boys who run the two rival surf clubs - to Nasima’s girlfriends who, by fifteen, have to confront everything from forced prostitution, forced marriage, teen pregnancy, and suicidal feelings, we also see that the central questions of love, identity, and how much to conform to society are the same challenges teenagers around the world face. We see that each character has a measure of power within their assigned role, and that every choice they make still has power. Will Nasima choose to marry Sudek, a construction worker who wants her to be a traditional, Muslim wife and quit surfing? Or will Nasima risk her reputation and trust promises of foreign sponsors to focus on surfing? Will 15-year-old Amina stay in a marriage she was forced into with a 40-year-old man? Or will she leave him to continue to capture the joy she finds surfing, despite having a new baby to care for? Will Jafar, the country’s self-described “first surfer,” use his marginal fame and the funds he’s getting from missionaries to empower girls and poor youth? Or will he choose to abuse his power? Will surfing be a savior as the surf club forms the country’s first lifeguarding program with aid from the British Navy? Or is surfing a subtle form of globalization and imperialism that even we, the documentarians, are perpetuating?
There are no easy answers in The Most Fearless, just as there are no cookie cutter solutions for young people growing up in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. But the courage of these young girls and women shines through every beat of this film. And we hope The Most Fearless will provoke a reflection about our the privilege, power, and choice we all have as individuals - regardless of the country we live in or our assigned roles. Whatever viewers take away, we have spent years filming, laughing and crying with the surf community of Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.
We can’t wait to share the story with you.