South Asian cinema mesmerises the world | Sunday Observer

South Asian cinema mesmerises the world

23 August, 2020

The Dhaka International Film Festival(DIFF) is one of the biggest film festivals in South Asia where you get the opportunity to indulge in the best of South Asian cinema rubbing shoulders with silver screen celebrities of South Asia. Its 19th edition will be held in Dhaka from January 16 to 24 2021.

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.

Similar to the previous years, the general theme of the festival is ‘Better Film, Better Audience and Better Society’. The Festival has been organised on a regular basis by the 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 1992.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Observer Ahmed Muztaba Zamal, the Festival Director of Dhaka International Film Festival said, “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 pervades the mainstream Bangladesh film industry,”

Film Submission deadline September 30, 2020

The film submission process of the festival is now open until September 30, 2020 and the festival will have a competition for under eight categories namely, Asian Cinema Section, Retrospective, Bangladesh Panorama Section, Cinema of the World Section, Children Films Section, Women Filmmakers Section, Short and Independent Films Section and Spiritual Films Section.

The Selection Committee is in charge of all sections. The Committee will preview and select films in DVDs (PAL) and downloadable link only. Preview Tapes will not be returned. They will be preserved for the Festival Archive for academic purposes. After submission and selection, no films can be withdrawn.

Film entries should be made in 2020, in special cases the Selection cCmmittee may accept films made in 2019.

The Festival is devoted to feature films only. Fictional films from all over the world, with a minimum length of 70 minutes are eligible for entry.

But documentaries and short films may only be included in ‘Women Filmmaker’, ‘Short and Independent’, ‘Spiritual Films’ and in other special sections where it is deemed fit. However, filmswith a maximum length of 30 minutes are eligible for entry in these sections. DIFF requires films which do not have any record of being screened in any other Bangladeshi film festival before DIFF.

Virtual platform at DIFF and Festival schedule

During the 19th DIFF, organisers expect to screen about 200 films, with the participation from around 60 countries.

The screening will be held at the Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, Star Cineplex, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Central Public Library Auditorium and Bangladesh National Museum Auditorium. As mentioned by the Festival Director Ahmed, Dhaka International Film Festival will use the virtual platform for the first time with this festival, besides the cinema halls.

“The DIFF select a few from the many submitted films and will use an online platform to cast it and once a film representative submits their film, they also agree to allow DIFF to do so. One documentary and one fiction film will be selected by the international interfaith juries appointed by the Festival.

Prizes will be awarded to the directors of the winning films. The award will be a certificate and a crest. Selected films from 2019 to 2020 and with a minimum length of 70 minutes are eligible for entry in this section. Documentaries and short films may be included in the Spiritual Films section with a maximum length of 30 minute,” he added.

Conference on Women in Cinema

Just like the previous years, the Rainbow Film Society expects numbers of woman filmmakers, actors and personalities from all over the world to attendi DIFF’s most important segment - the ‘Seventh Dhaka International Conference on Women in Cinema 2021’.

This conference will be held on Sunday January 17 and Monday, January 18, 2021 during the festival.

“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. Having said this, I would also mention that this conference will serve as the heart of our upcoming festival,” Ahmed said..

West meets East

Cinema by virtue of its invention has essentially remained a western art form. When the countries from the East adopted the art, they approached it quite differently. Like any other art there remained a clear division between the cinema from the East and that from the West and it was assumed that “Never the twain shall meet”.

There has been a significant change over the years. International Film Festivals have become a meeting point between the two. As a result more and more films from the East are being appreciated by the West in recent times.

However, there has been a school of thought that the West has been more patronising than appreciating in their approach.

A day-long program will be held at the DIFF on January 19, 2021 on discussing the matter of recognising a certain kind of cinema from this Eastern region by the West and many other similar questions will be raised, discussed and refuted. The discussion will be held with the participation of an international film critic, a prominent Festival official, a leading academic and an experienced producer.

Censorship and criteria

According to the Festival Director, as per the existing policy every film participating in the Festival will have to be submitted to the Bangladesh Film Censorship Board for a clearance certificate.

“The Censor Board in Bangladesh is absolutely intolerant to any nudity, obscenity, sexual scenes, promotion of homosexuality, insulting or belittling of any religion or any film or any scene that may jeopardise the country’s international ties.

If you decide to submit your film at our festival we will assume that you have agreed and have given us the permission to edit and delete as per the terms and conditions of our Censor Board,” he said.

Invitation for Sri Lankan filmmakers

Ahmed welcomes all filmmakers in Sri Lanka to the virtual edition of 19th Dhaka International Film Festival. “You all can tag along and join the beautiful experience of DIFF. We have in store various genres and life changing cinemas that you would remember forever,”

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic situation, although it cannot be certainly said about a physical participation at the festival, Ahmed stressed the fact that DIFF hopes to see all the Sri Lankan filmmakers and film enthusiasts in the coming years at the Festival.

He invited all cinema enthusiasts to experience the traditions and culture of Bangladesh, as it is a part of South Asia, it makes DIFF a part of it too.

“DIFF reflects greatly on the South Asian aspect. We can together show the whole world, how rich our culture is and how united we are in the roots. South Asian cinema never fails to mesmerise the world, we hope we can keep on contributing to become one of the best cinemas there is,” he added.