Matir Moina (Bengali: মাটির ময়না) (also spelled Matir Moyna and known in English as The Clay Bird) is a Bangla film directed by Tareque Masud, a Bangladeshi film director. The film was released in 2002. It was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize in section Directors’ Fortnight outside competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, and became Bangladesh’s first film to compete for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Matir Moina deals with Masud’s own experiences studying at a madrasah against the increasing tensions in East Pakistan culminating in the Bangladesh War of Liberation. Throughout the film there are references to historical occurrences in agitated times, and the film portrays these episodes through the human experiences of the young protagonist, his family, and his teachers and peers at the madrasah. Matir Moina won a number of awards internationally but was initially banned in Bangladesh on the grounds that it dealt with issues sensitive to the religious. The ban was repealed and the DVD version was released on April 16th, 2005.
The film is set against the backdrop of unrest in East Pakistan in the late 1960s leading up to the Bangladesh War of Liberation. In this setting, a small family must come to grips with its culture, its faith, and the brutal political changes entering its small-town world. Anu, a young boy, is sent off to a madrasah by his unbendingly devout father Kazi. Anu’s younger sister falls ill and dies because of Kazi’s refusal to use conventional medicine. While at the madrasah, Anu befriends Rokon, an eccentric misfit in the rigorous religious school, who is forced by the teachers to undergo an exorcism by ducking in the freezing river to cure himself.
Personal tragedies beset the family and tests its loyalty to the obdurate patriarch Kazi, who still believes in the religious unity of Pakistan, in the face of cruel, contradictory events.
A shattering political development then changes their town, their life, and the inner dynamics of the family, including the patriarch’s role.