Hudson film screens to a sold out crowd

On February 4, Hudson Hall, 327 Warren Street, screened “Hudson, America” about several local residents. The screening, which was followed by a panel discussion, was sold out. Participant Ramisa Tasnim (pictured) was unable to attend but sent a video greeting. Photo by David Lee

On stage for the panel discussion were (l to r) moderator Michael Chameides, participants Jabin Ahmed, Jahed Miah, Siddique Ahmed, and filmmakers Zuzka Kurtz and Geoffrey Hug. Photo by David Lee

HUDSON – Being a community-facing organization, Hudson Hall was the appropriate scene for the premier of a documentary film that followed the lives of six young Hudson High School graduates who are first generation immigrants from Bangladesh. “Hudson, America” (2022, 101 mins) was billed as a coming of age feature documentary about these Gen-Z Bangladeshi students as they prepared to graduate and move into their lives as independent adults during the uniquely challenging years from 2016 to 2022. It was directed by the team of multimedia artist Zuzka Kurtz and producer, director and editor Geoffrey Hug. It played for a sold-out audience on Saturday afternoon, February 4.

The film is divided into years from 2016 when most of the students were still in high school, and checks in with them in the subsequent years as they go off to college, get jobs and develop relationships. It was originally planned to cover 4 years of the students’ lives, but restrictions caused by the pandemic compelled the filmmakers to add two more years to the production schedule.

The world premier for the film was as part of the Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) Festival on August 17. The film made its New York City premier on November 17 at the Big Apple Film Festival. It has also aired on PBS and Amazon Prime.

The primary participants are Jahed Miah who was born in Queens and moved with his family to Hudson when he was 2 years old, Mahmuda Alam who was born in Hudson, Siddique Ahmed who was born in Bangladesh and came to Hudson when he was 5, and Hudson residents Ramisa Tasnim, Farzana Akhter, and Jabin Ahmed who has lived in Hudson most of her life.

The period of time in question was tough for any young person in America. Here the film zooms in on some of the particular challenges of being raised in a community of people whose culture has its origins in a small, predominantly Muslim country on the opposite side of the planet. They talk about issues around religion, education, family and relationships, arranged marriages and wearing the hijab. They respond to real-time events like the United States government’s proposed Muslim ban, the Black Lives Matter movement, the #MeToo movement and the Covid pandemic, all in the context of a passionately preserved cultural heritage.

Hudson’s Bangladeshi community has its origins in the mid-1980s as Bangladeshi workers came to work at the newly relocated Emsig Manufacturing Corp button factory. Families were recruited to get out of New York City to Hudson where rents were still relatively low and steady work was available. The factory closed in 1999 but the community has survived. Progress continues slowly but steadily on the construction of a new Islamic Center in Hudson, ground for which was broken in 2018.

[Siddique Ahmed] said Hudson will always be in his heart.

The film focuses closely on the students’ faces and records their discussion of closely held personal life choices, revealing that within the origins of their community they are very much individuals. They are thoughtful and articulate when they speak of the shoals they navigate as they pursue their careers and life goals. Many of them spoke of the support they received from Hudson High School as well as the community organizations that provide educational and social support after school each day.

There was a panel discussion following the screening. In attendance were Mr. Ahmed, Mr. Miah and Ms. Ahmed and the film-makers. Ramisa and Mahmuda recorded video greetings. The moderator was Michael Chameides, county Supervisor for Hudson’s 3rd Ward. He asked them whether their understanding of their religion had changed since the making of the film. Mr. Ahmed said that talking about religion can be hard, but he had learned to be comfortable with who he was. Mr. Miah spoke about the danger of radicalization but he said he sought out the advice of people who had his best interests in mind. Ms. Ahmed said that she felt that she could have her faith with more freedom.

The three participants were given the opportunity to talk about their experience at Hudson High School, each of whom gave a generally positive characterization. Mr. Miah said that he had mentors in school who encouraged him and helped him get scholarships. He said that there were good resources at HHS. Mr. Ahmed gave a shout out to the HHS History department. He said as long as he has family and friends in Hudson, he will be back to visit. He said Hudson will always be in his heart. Ms. Miah said she loved her teachers and said they were underpaid. They need more support, she said.

More information on the film is at

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