Echoing the slogan “Better Film, Better Audience and Better Society”, the 19th edition of the Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) has officially began in the capital on Saturday.The nine-day festival was inaugurated by Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen as chief guest of the inauguration ceremony, while the Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Vikram K Doraiswami joined as the special guest, reports UNB.
Presided over by Liberation War Museum trustee Dr Mofidul Hoque, festival director Ahmed Muztaba Jamal delivered the welcome speech at the ceremony. The event was also attended by festival patron M Hamid, DIFF chairperson Kishwar Kamal, festival’s Asian Films Competition jury and renowned art critic Moinuddin Khaled and more, among others.
Referring the Dhaka International Film Festival as a ‘flagship’ event in the domain of films and film appreciation in the context of Bangladesh, FM said in his speech that the festival is slowly but gradually becoming a high platform for projecting the Bangladeshi understanding of the evolution of the film-space all over the world.
“The 19th DIFF is dedicated to the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It is coming up at a time when we are crossing over from within the ‘MujibBorsho’ to the Golden Jubilee of our Independence.
It was the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who had first tabled the bill in the provincial assembly of erstwhile East Pakistan for the formation of Film Development Corporation (FDC) in 1957, which eventually became BFDC after the independence of Bangladesh – and till today holds and nurtures the principal foundation of Bangladesh’s Film Industry,” Dr Momen said in his speech.
Addressing the role of the government regarding the ongoing pandemic, FM said, “The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has managed the COVID19 situation very successfully across the country and at present we see that the infection level is reduced to less than 10%. So for the sake of our film industry, the government has opened the theatres again under conditions of health and social-distancing restrictions.””Even with constraints put in place by COVID19, this is a great event for gathering and presenting creative minds around the world. Through this event, I hope that people will know and learn about culture, society, tradition and beliefs of other countries”, Dr Momen said at the event.
Indian ambassador Vikram K Doraiswami said, “India has always been a loyal cultural companion to Bangladesh. A biopic on the Father of the Nation, documenting the life and works of the greatest Bengali of all times, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s – and we are proud that the Bangladesh-India joint venture production also commences filming this January (2021).”
Festival director Ahmed Muztaba Jamal said, “Promoting healthy cine culture in Bangladesh and celebrating the global mainstream of film, Rainbow Film Society has been organising the festival since 1977. Though the ongoing global pandemic of COVID-19 impacted every aspects of our lives, we tried to include all the sections of films in this festival through a hybrid format for the first time in DIFF’s history.”
The 19th edition of DIFF is showcasing a total of 226 films from around 73 countries.The films will be screened at venues namely the main auditorium and Sufia Kamal Auditorium of the Bangladesh National Museum, Shawkat Osman Memorial Auditorium of the Sufia Kamal National Public Library, the National Art Gallery Auditorium and Music and Dance Centre of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Nandan Mancha of the academy, and branches of Star Cineplex. Aside from these venues, the festival will screen films using the virtual platform LagVelki.com for the first time.
The 19th DIFF will have a competition for its diversified segments including the Asian Cinema Competition Section, Legendary Leaders Who Changed the World, Tribute, Retrospective, Bangladesh Panorama Section, Cinema of the World Section, Children Films Section, Women Filmmakers Section, Short and Independent Films Section and Spiritual Films Section.
This year’s festival will feature films on global leaders under a new segment titled ‘Legendary Leaders Who Changed the World’, for the first time in its history. This will honour the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation and the Founding President of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as part of the Mujib Borsho celebration across the country.
A very special segment of 19th DIFF is called ‘Tribute’ which will honour the Oscar-winning cinema titan Satyajit Ray, on the occasion of his birth centenary. Some of his notable films including “Pather Panchali”, “Aparajito”, “Jalsaghar”, “Apur Sansar”, “Ashani Sanket”, “Sonar Kella” and “Hirak Rajar Deshe” will be screened at the festival as part of this Section.
Besides, the festival will also arrange a special seminar session on January 20 at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy titled “Satyajit Ray: National as Global”, which will observe a keynote paper presentation by cultural activist and Trustee, Bangladesh Liberation War Museum and will be joined by renowned actors and activists as the discussants from India and Bangladesh, including Padma Bhushan-winning actress Sharmila Tagore, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Supreme Court of Bangladesh justice and well-known painting, music and movie collector Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed, art critic and festival Asian section jury Moinuddin khaled and former Cultural Affairs Minister and legendary thespian Asaduzzaman Noor.
The 19th DIFF will also feature Seventh Dhaka International Conference on Women in Cinema 2021, which will be held from January 17 to January 18. Women filmmakers, actors and personalities from all over the world are scheduled to participate in the event.Rainbow Film Society has been organizing DIFF since 1992 with the theme Better Film, Better Audience and Better Society. It has been working to promote a healthy cine culture in Bangladesh since 1977. The 19th edition of DIFF will conclude on January 24.