Rudro, a bright-eyed artist from Dhaka, is en route to a remote fishing village in the Ganges Delta for his latest project. He travels with an enormous box of art supplies, singling him out as a city slicker among the rural population. Upon arrival, he meets a local imam, known as Chairman (Fazlur Rahman Babu), who greets him with deceptive graciousness. Rudro soon learns that he has come ashore in a deeply conservative Muslim community, and tensions surface when the villagers help Rudro unload his art supplies, and discover that he is a sculptor: a maker of idols.
It would be easy to pigeonhole THE SALT IN OUR WATERS as a simple “culture clash” narrative, but its focus on climate change complicates the well-trod binaries of tradition/modernity and science/religion. Chairman blames Rudro’s sculptures for their disappearing fish stocks, while Rudro, far from a scientist himself, struggles to articulate what he believes is happening to them. As monsoon season approaches, this breakdown of communication has violent consequences. Director Rezwan Shahriar Sumit dramatizes a serious question facing Bangladeshi communities: How can “non-experts” of vastly different backgrounds find the language to talk about, and address their shared environmental challenges?