• Wednesday, Mar 20, 2019
  • Last Update : 05:08 pm

West Meets East: Never the twain shall meet

  • Published at 08:59 pm January 15th, 2019
Mostofa Sarwar Farooki-DIFF 2019
Film-maker Mostofa Sarwar Farooki explaining how his producers try to restructure his story to fit the 'Western' style of storytelling on Monday at DIFF 2019 | Courtesy

Celebrated Bangladeshi film-makers and over 50 foreign delegates participated in the day-long programme

The first “West Meets East” conference was held on Monday as part of the Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF). Celebrated Bangladeshi film-makers and over 50 foreign delegates participated in the day-long programme.

The topics discussed at the event included how “Oriental and Occidental” aesthetics vary, what characteristics we attribute to the “East” and to the “West,” how logical those assumptions are, if there is more difference in the aesthetics between East and West in the age of new media or if the gap is getting narrower, are there more crossovers of cultures or is the whole world looking through a “Western gaze”,can film-makers sustain by only making films suited for international film festivals, can the local film industry sustain if talented film-makers are interested in only film festivals and not the film industry, do film festivals tend to select films with exoticand issue-based themes, and so on. 

One theme that repeatedly came up, especially among the younger film-makers, was co-production. Rising directors like Shahriar Sumit, Abu Shahed Emonand Abid Mollick,talked about some of the benefits and drawbacks of going for co-production.

Popular actor and director Tauquir Ahmed portrayed a vivid picture of how festival programmers reacted to some scenes from his film, “Oggatonama.” 

Tauquir said: “They thought our acting was too loud. They didn’t think ‘sur kore kanda’(wailing musically while crying) was a real thing.”

Tauquir also talked about how he makes two versions for each feature film he makes _ one for the local cinemas and one for international festivals. The local version always has around five songs and the length is over two hours. The international version has no songs and is shorter in length. 

Celebrated film-maker Mostofa Sarwar Farooki also addressed the issue, saying: “We have to stand our ground and fight for the kind of stories we want to tell.”

He also explained how his producers tried to restructure his story to fit the “Western” style of storytelling. He stood his ground in meetings with the foreign producers and explained to them why his story has a different flow, and why his protagonist often had unconventional traits. 

Television personality Samia Zaman wrapped up the session,emphasizing on how international film festivals and co-productions are opening up new gateways for young film-makers, and how the future looks very exciting with the line between the “West” and the “East” blurring more and more with time.