Bangladeshi films and film-makers had a successful run in the international arena in 2018. Numerous short and feature length fiction and documentary films were selected and screened at different film festivals around the world, where they received critical acclaim. The Dhaka Tribune Showtime’s Siam Raihan looks back at some of the major successes of Bangladeshi films on the global platform in 2018
Acclaimed Bangladeshi filmmaker Tauquir Ahmed’s “Haalda” won the Grand Prix at the Religion Today Film Festival in Italy on October 10. ‘Haldaa’ had previously won several awards in film festivals in Colombo, London, Kosovo and Dhaka in 2018. The film also participated in the renowned Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia this year.
“Haldaa” was released on December 1, 2017. The film’s story was written by Azad Bulbul and the screenplay was penned by the director himself. The film’s three main leads are Zahid Hasan, Mosharraf Karim and Nusrat Imrose Tisha. Mosharraf Karim plays the role of a fisherman, while Zahid Hasan is the antagonist. Dilara Zaman, Fazlur Rahman Babu, Shahed Ali and Runa Khan play other characters in the film.
It was shot in Chittagong’s regional accent and is Tauquir’s fifth feature film. The River Haldaa and the life of people living near it have been featured in this film. Issues like the struggles of people living near rivers and land erosion are its main focus.
Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival
Four Bangladeshi feature films were selected for the 5th Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival 2018, drawing huge attention among the Bangali community living in India’s Telangana state. The three-day festival began at the Prasad Film Preview Labs, Hyderabad, on December 8 where 10 Bangla films _ four from Bangladesh and six from West Bengal _ were screened.
The Bangladeshi films which were screened at the festival, which is being organized by Bangalis in Hyderabad (popularly known as BiH) since 2014, are “Dressing Table,” “Oggatonama,” “Khacha” and “Kaler Katha.”
‘A New Prophet’
Internationally acclaimed Bangladeshi film-maker Rezwan Shahriar Sumit’s upcoming project “A New Prophet” was showcased at this year’s Film Bazaar Co-Production Market in Goa, India. It was the only project to represent Bangladesh in South Asia’s biggest film market. The film was awarded the Sloan Foundation Production Grant in 2017.
Sumit’s upcoming film “Nonajoler Kabbo - The Salt in Our Waters”, has also recently been granted the prestigious Aide aux cinémas du monde fund, worth €80,000 (more than Tk77 lakh). It was Sumit's first feature-length script which also won Bangladesh's National Film Grant in 2017, and a writing grant from American director Spike Lee in 2016.
The film was a semifinalist at Sundance Screenwriters Lab in 2017, and it was also invited to the Film Bazaar Co-Production Market in Goa, India in 2016, where it generated considerable buzz.
The film stars Fazlur Rahman Babu, Shatabdi Wadud, Rosey Siddiqui, Tasnuva Tamanna, Titash Zia, Ashok Bepari, Mukul Rahman and Iqbal Mamun in major roles.
The project is a co-production between Sumit’s company, Mypixelstory, and France’s ARSAM International. Popular Bangladeshi film-maker Amitabh Reza Chowdhury’s production company Half Stop Down is the line production partner of the film.
‘Sincerely Yours, Dhaka’
“Sincerely Yours, Dhaka,” the first film anthology of Bangladesh, was screened at the 23rd Busan film festival in South Korea which was held in October.
The film was selected for the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in 'A Window on Asian Cinema' section as the only entry this year from Bangladesh. A total of 323 films from 79 countries were screened at this year’s Busan film festival. Among the films, 115 had a world premiere and 25 had international premieres.
“Sincerely Yours, Dhaka” is an anthology of short films with the central theme being the capital of Bangladesh _ Dhaka. The short films were made by 11 directors _ Abdullah Al Noor, Golam Kibria Farooki, Krishnendu Chattopadhyay, Mahmudul Islam, Md Rabiul Alam, Mir Mukarram Hossain, Nuhash Humayun, Rahat Rahman, Syed Ahmed Shawki, Syed Saleh Ahmed Sobhan and Tanvir Ahsan. As the first film anthology of Bangladesh, it has a large cast of more than 30 actors. The executive producers of the film are Faridur Reza Sagar and Ebne Hasan Khan, while Abu Shahed Emon worked as the creative producer under the banner of Impress Telefilms Ltd.
A short documentary on the ongoing Rohingya crisis, “A Pair of Sandal”, competed in the best short and best low budget categories at the 20th Independent Days International Film Festival in Karlsruhe, Germany, in April.
The world premiere of the documentary was held at Naples Human Rights Festival in Italy. It won the best director award at the HAK-IS Short Film Competition in Ankara, Turkey. “A Pair of Sandal,” was also screened in the Short Films Corner at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 2018. The film then got picked up by Shorts TV, DirecTV and AT&T Network in the US for distribution.
Moreover, another Bangladeshi documentary, titled “People who Crossed River Naf” based on the Rohingya plight, got selected as the semifinalist in the competition segment of UNHCR’s Al-Nahj International Film Festival 2018 in Iraq in February.
The film was directed by young filmmaker Nazmul Islam Lalien. The six and a half minute long documentary which focuses on the humanitarian crisis at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border and the great migration of the Rohingya people helplessly entering Bangladesh by crossing the Naf River, which separates the two nations, was selected from thousands of submissions and competed against 16 more documentaries from around the world. The short documentary, produced by Amirul Rajiv and Muhammad Anwar Hossain, was premiered at the Cefalu Film Festival on May 1, 2018 in Italy.
‘Nameless - A Journey of No-one’
“Nameless - A Journey of No-one” was selected for the San Mauro Film Festival, Italy, in 2018 as a semi-finalist, after being awarded “Best Democracy Film” in the short fiction category at the 16th International Film Festival in Jaipur, India in 2017. The film had been the official selection at Twin Lion International Short Film Festival, India, Rainbow International Film Festival, London, Dhaka International Film Festival, and International Film Festival of South Asia, Toronto. It was also among the jury selection for Kimera International Film Festival 2017 in Italy.
‘Bhoy - The Fear of Silence’
Short film “Bhoy - The Fear of Silence” was premiered at the 7th Delhi International Film Festival 2018 in New Delhi, India in October. The film is directed by young Bangladeshi director Zuairijah Mou. “Bhoy - The Fear of Silence,” inspired by Nabarun Bhattacharya’s story “Mritodeho Dorshon”, won the "Best Short" title. The film was funded by the Bangladesh government and it is a Bangladesh Cinema & Television Institute production.
‘The Last Post Office’
Bangladeshi short film “The Last Post Office” was selected for the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, the biggest film festival in the world dedicated to short films. The 41st edition of the festival took place from February 1 to 9 in Clermont-Ferrand, France.
Directed by Aung Rakhine, written by Rajib Rafi and co-produced by Rubaiyat Hossain and Aadnan Imtiaz Ahmed, “The Last Post Office” is a fairy-tale with an evil twist. Earlier this year, the 17-minute-long film had its world premiere at Locarno Film Festival’s Open Doors section.
“The Last Post Office,” shot in Bangla, is Aung Rakhine’s second film. His debut "Mor Thengari - My Bicycle” was the first Chakma language feature film in Bangladesh. The film was produced by Khona Talkies.