Masum Billah : Dhaka is hosting the thirteenth International Film Festival. Rainbow Film Society arranges this biannual festival. The festival has been organized on a regular basis by Rainbow Film Society which remains dedicated to the promotion of a healthy cine culture in Bangladesh with a view to celebrating the global mainstream film and its social relevance since 1977. The festival has been organized on a regular basis by Rainbow Film Society which remains dedicated to the promotion of a healthy cine culture in Bangladesh with a view to celebrating the global mainstream film and its social relevance since 1977. In the short span of twenty one years, Dhaka International Film Festival has attained international recognition with twelve festivals held in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. The 12th Dhaka International Film Festival was held January 12-20, 2012 with around 200 films from 55 countries, including Bangladesh. Rainbow Film Society is one of the most active in the film society movement of Bangladesh. Apart from holding regular film shows and film related seminars and workshops, Rainbow also brings out The Celluloid, the only cinema periodical from Bangladesh with an international audience. This year’s festival began with screening of the Arabic French director Kadija Leclere’s film The Bag of Flour at the Bangladesh National Museum auditorium. It was followed by the screening of the Indonesian maker Kamila Andini’s film The Mirror Never Lies at the same venue. The slogan of the thirteenth Dhaka International Film Festival is ‘Better Film, Better Audience and Better Society. A film must have educative value through its entertaining features. But today most of the films just give vulgar taste to the audience which has contributed a lot to squeezing the number of audience. The tasteful and sound audience must be interested in watching movies having both educative values and sound entertainment. Again, the encroachment of vulgar films and only sex appealing films from outside the border have occupied the market of Bangladesh. It is extremely difficult to face this situation. Even then, the people belonging to film industry must have a through research and find out ways and means to bring the audience back to the cinema halls and local films shows. When I ask the children why do you watch only Indian movies, they simply answer there is no story and excitement in Bangladeshi films. I cannot make time to watch movies but whenever I get opportunity I try to watch Bangladeshi movies but the claim of the children exactly proves true. I don’t find any difference of the themes among a series of movies of Bangladesh. The same kind of stories happens in almost all the movies. These factors call for serious attention of the people of film industry. This situation invites the films of neighbouring countries. It is undoubtedly a laudable initiative of Rainbow Film Society to arrange international film festival in Dhaka which will give opportunity to make a sharing with other film directors and the themes of movies with the participating countries. But this festival is not widely spread and probably to mass audience. I think it should have a wide coverage . In the nine-day festival, organizers expect to screen around 150 films from 50 countries in five venues including the Central Public Library, two auditoriums of the Bangladesh National Museum, Alliance Francise de Dhaka and EMK centre in Dhanmondi. The festival features a competition section for Asian and Australian cinema and segment categories for retrospective, cinema of the world, children’s film, women filmmakers’ films, short and independent films and spiritual films. We cannot but appreciate this effort of the authorities. An international jury board will adjudicate the Australasian competition section showcasing 23 films from 17 Asian and Australian countries. The award will include a crest, certificate and a cash prize of Tk. 100,000/- for the best film. The international jury committee will also select one best director, best actor, best actress, best music director and best cinematographer. It will enhance the interest of the film people to produce sophisticated films and it’s a kind of recognition for them. Like the previous editions of the festival there will be a workshop. The fourth Dhaka Cine Workshop is taking place from January 12 to January 17on ULAB campus at Satmasjid Road, Dhanmondi. Creative professionals from diverse fields of the film industry will also deliver speeches at the workshop. The other major attraction of this edition is an international conference on women cinema. Around 30 women filmmakers, actors and personalities from all over the world will attend the two-day conference. One film will be selected for an Audience Award by the general viewers. The award will be in the form of a certificate and a crest. Several films will be included. These screenings are ideal family outings and will be open to all children and adults. One film will be selected by audience vote for the Best Juvenile Film Audience Award. The award will be in the form of a certificate and a crest. For the second time in its history, DIFF will screen films by independent filmmakers experimenting with a variety of filming formats. The widely available, relatively low-cost formats of DVCAM, VCD, DVD and mini DVs have allowed many more artists to venture into film production. This portion of the Festival will showcase feature films as well as documentary and short films from around the world. A selection of full-length feature films as well as short length and documentary films by female filmmakers will be screened at this year’s DIFF. An independent jury of female filmmakers, cultural experts, artists, and professionals have been appointed by the Festival Committee to judge this portion of the competition. One award will be made for Best Director in the Women Filmmakers Category. This section is being introduced to promote public discourse on the place of faith and spirituality in the human context. The idea is for viewers to distinguish between elements of identity in spirituality as opposed to the abuse of faith in fundamentalism. The showcasing of films on spirituality would promote greater cross-cultural understanding and tolerance and facilitate dialogues within communities as between communities. Around 25 to 30 women filmmakers, actors and personalities from all over the world will come to Dhaka to hold a conference on “International Conference on Women Cinema” which will be organized in association with the Department of Women and Gender Studies of the University of Dhaka, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of the University of Dhaka and Department of Television & Film Studies of the University of Dhaka. This will also serve the purpose of a platform that will address issues concerning women through the work being done by the invited panel of women guests. Given that women compose half of humanity and the inherent importance and relevance of women’s issues in global progress, it is high time that such a conference is convened in a country like Bangladesh, more so as the world is going through enormous changes on all fronts having both positive and negative implications for women. The DIFF has definitely helped shape an increasingly healthy and positive national film culture with its bold expression of resistance against the decadence, vulgarity and cheap commercialism that pervades the mainstream Bangladesh film industry. The festival has also created space for young and aspiring filmmakers in Bangladesh and larger South Asia to connect with global artistic trends and to strengthen the parallel development of Bangladeshi cinema. It is one of the most attended festivals in Dhaka and brings together people from all walks of life attracting a number of important personalities from various countries. Film industry can be used as a real vehicle to spread our history and culture when directed rightly.
(Masum Billah is Program Manager: BRAC Education Program and Vice-President: Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association ( BELTA), Email: [email protected] )