21st Dhaka International Film Festival begins | Sunday Observer

21st Dhaka International Film Festival begins

15 January, 2023

The nine-day-long 21st edition of the Dhaka International Film Festival’ (DIFF) kicked off its full-fledged version at Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Auditorium of the Bangladesh National Museum yesterday with the participation of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen as the chief guest. The festival consists of lively discussions with filmmakers, seminars, open forums and cultural events and will be concluded on January 22.

The opening film of the festival was JK 1971 by Fukhrul Arefeen and the film is considered as a landmark in the Bangladeshi film industry which is based on true events of 1971’s Bangladesh libration war, made in English.

The theme of the festival is ‘Better Film, Better Audience and Better Society’. The Festival has been organised on a regular basis by Rainbow Film Society, which has been dedicated to the promotion of a healthy cine culture in Bangladesh and in celebrating the global mainstream in film and its social relevance since 1977.

Festival Director of DIFF Ahmed Muztaba Zamal told the Sunday Observer that, “The response we received from the filmmakers all around the world was quite impressive and encouraging. We have selected 254 films from 70 countries for this year’s festival. Similar to previous years, the festival is having a competition for “Asian Cinema Section”, “Retrospective”, “Tribute”, “Wide Angle”, “Bangladesh Panorama Section”, “Cinema of the World Section”, “Children Films Section”, “Women Filmmakers Section”, “Short and Independent Films Section” and “Spiritual Films Section”.

“The screenings have been scheduled in four venues such as the Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, Star Cineplex, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and Bangladesh National Museum Auditorium.

I must say the fact that although this is the most difficult time to run an international festival in the country and despite many obstacles that we have to overcome throughout the process, we are quite confident that the festival would succeed in creating awareness among all concerned about the need for making and viewing good films,” Zamal said.

Rainbow Film Society

Rainbow Film Society is one of the most active film entities 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”, one of the leading cinema periodicals from Bangladesh with an international audience.

The DIFF is one of the most prestigious film events in Bangladesh and, to a great extent, has helped shape an increasingly healthy and positive national film culture. DIFF is a bold expression of resistance against the decadence, vulgarity and cheap commercialism that pervade 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.

Int’l Conference on Women in Cinema

“Just like the previous years, Rainbow Film Society has invited a number of women filmmakers, actors, producers and educationists from all over the world to attend our very important segment of the festival “Ninth Dhaka International Conference on Women in Cinema 2023” which takes place today and tomorrow. 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,” said Ahmed.

“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,” Ahmed added.

West Meets East

West Meets East Screenplay Lab 2023 is another important segment in the festival that promotes filmmakers from South Asia by allowing them an opportunity to network with professionals including producers, distributors and programmers from the global industry.

After mentoring at the Lab, the successful participants will pitch to potential international collaborators through the program’s market section - Film Haat. West Meets East, which began in 2019, is a special section of Dhaka International Film Festival aimed at bridging the gap between the Western film industry and filmmakers from the East. Any filmmaker from the region: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka were given the opportunity to submit a feature length fiction project.

“This year too we receive many number of interesting feature film projects from South Asian countries. After a strenuous selection process, we have requested selected projects to submit a complete screenplay. Mentoring of the finalists will be done during the West Meets East Screenplay Lab and pitching will take place at the Film Haat, in the next few days and we are announcing the final winners on January 18 and three projects will be awarded cash prizes of USD 5000, USD 3000 and USD 2000,” said Ahmed.