One of the biggest highlights of this year's Dhaka Lit Fest has been Hollywood actor Tilda Swinton, whose second appearance on the final day of the festival yesterday was to introduce John Berger to Bangladeshi readers through a screening of one of her directorial ventures. The documentary The seasons of Quincy: Four portraits of John Berger, which was a five years long collaboration between Swinton, Colin MacCabe and Christopher Roth, is a tribute to the late art critic, novelist, painter and intellectual, John Berger, who was also a dear friend and mentor of Swinton.
The screening, which took place at the Abdul Karim Sahitya Bisharad Auditorium, began with an introductory note by Dhaka Lit Fest director Kazi Anis Ahmed, followed by a reading by Swinton from some of Berger's work.
In his introduction, Kazi Anis spoke about John Berger, who he described as “a unique figure in the world of arts and letters, perhaps the only one.” He also talked about Berger's influential work in his world renowned documentary of art, called Ways of Seeing, which, he said is “one of the most influential pieces on art and how we look at things. He is well-known as an art critic, but he is more than that. In broader terms, he was a philosopher, who believed in Marxist humanism, and his sole obsession actually seemed to be, how to be human.” About the documentary, he said “it is not only about information or instruction, but is rather an invitation to become immersed.”
Kazi Anis then welcomed Swinton on to the stage, who expressed deep gratitude for being able to be here in Dhaka to present a project that she described as being very close to her heart, through which, she said, “you're gonna do the best thing of all – you're gonna meet him.”
She ended her brief discussion of John Berger by reading an excerpt from one of his novels and a few words from his acceptance speech when he was awarded the Booker Prize in 1972 for his novel G.