• Sunday, Nov 17, 2019
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Curtain closes on 17th DIFF

  • Published at 11:24 pm January 18th, 2019
17th DIFF closing ceremony
Award winners and the special guests pose together for a photo, following the closing ceremony of 17th DIFF at National Museum auditorium, yesterday afternoon | Courtesy

After a lot of speculation and excitement for nine days of the festival, 17th DIFF awards were presented to the best films of the festival. Over 130 film-makers and film personalities from both Bangladesh and abroad participated in this year’s festival. The international film-makers were hosted by various hotels. Some ministers arranged special programs in honour of the some of the international film-makers

The 17th Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) closed its curtains with a balance between expectations and achievements. The closing ceremony was held at National Museum auditorium yesterday afternoon.

The chief guest of the closing ceremony was Minister of Foreign Affairs AK Abdul Momen. The entire program was moderated by the chief patron of DIFF and the State Minister of Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, with Secretary at Ministry of Information Abdul Malek as special guest. 

After a lot of speculation and excitement for nine days of the festival, 17th DIFF awards were presented to the best films of the festival. Over 130 film-makers and film personalities from both Bangladesh and abroad participated in this year’s festival. The international film-makers were hosted by various hotels. Some ministers arranged special programs in honour of the some of the international film-makers.

Winner of the Best Documentary award in Women Filmmakers section, Leesa Gazi, told Dhaka Tribune Showtime: "It felt right to bring the film where its root was and to have won the Best Documentary Award for it was extra special. We will never forget the moment when Birangona Rijia Begum Apa along and Nurjahan Apa came onto the stage and held the award. It gives me goosebumps when I think about it. I am ever so grateful to the universe for that moment.

"I came to know about the Birangona women when I was 17 years old from my father, who was a freedom fighter. We siblings grew up hearing harrowing and heroic stories of the war. But one particular story about Birangona women had always been there with me. I started collecting their personal accounts to safeguard their stories and from this, working with Komola Collective, a theatrical piece emerged. The play interwove film footage by the individual Birangona women. During the touring of the play, the Birangona women we met and knew were leaving us one by one. I felt the urgency to save their stories as a more permanent record. I did not have any experience in filmmaking but I knew exactly what the film would explore and convey. Our executive producer Openvizor, producer Komola Collective and the co-producer Making Herstory have helped me make this wildest dream of mine a reality. Manusher Jonno Foundation and The Osiris Group have also extended their kind support in the making," Leesa added.

First time DIFF participant Meng Huo said this about the 17th DIFF: “The environment and the crowd are great. The film-watchers also came in great numbers.  I am very pleased with Rainbow, for how they organized this festival.”

However, Festival Programmer Debanik Kundu, who is a film-maker from Kolkata, expressed some concerns about the number of film-watchers in the festival. Debanik said: “In any film festivals of India, every day we get so much crowd, that not everyone can be accommodated. Same cannot be said for this festival. What is unexpected is the lack of film students from universities of this country.”

A diverse range of culture and language were on display at the festival, as 218 films from 72 countries were screened at five venues around the capital. The venues were the Main Auditorium and Sufia Kamal Auditorium of the Bangladesh National Museum,National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Shawkat Osman Auditorium ofCentral Public Library Auditorium, Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, and Blockbuster Cinema at Jamuna Future Park.

Apart from the screening of films the festival also had 5th edition of Women in Cinema Conference 2019 and seminar about making of films, West Meets East. Before the screening of critically acclaimed films, presentation ceremonies were arranged for the makers of those films. 

Rainbow Film Society members and 200 volunteers worked tirelessly to put the film festival together. Most of the volunteers were either students or from the youth demographic, and worked in various key locations of the festival, such as, ticket booths, information desks, cinema halls, or entrance to the cinema halls. 

The Finance Secretary of DIFF Mizanur Rahman said: “During volunteer recruitment at various universities and colleges, we selected those students who are inclined towards culture. Therefore, they worked at this festival with a lot of enthusiasm. Due to their proactive responsiveness in every situation the festival was termed ‘well-organized’ by many visitors.”

At various places around the Central Public Library, almost every day film-makers, of both local and international origin, were seen chatting about films over a cup of tea. Topics ranged from the current direction of films across the world to, what should be done to improve films in future. The unity among the film-makers and the film technicians appeared to have become stronger, as the discussions, about improving this art form and how films can bring peace and development to the world, were not just limited to the conferences and seminars of the festival, but also in these impromptu chat sessions over tea.

At a film festival of such a large scale, naturally the number of visitors was big. People from every walk of life poured in the morning, and as the day progresses the number would just keep increasing. What was note-worthy was the large presence of students among all the visitors of the festival.Senior citizens and the children, with their guardians and parents, also attended the festival in great numbers. A significant number of office workers and women populated the halls of the festival during the evening.

Films, such as, “Isolation,”“Debi,”“Komola Rocket,”“Rong Beronger Korhi,”“Hridoyer Rong Dhonu,”“Ek Je Chhilo Raja,”“Botol Bhoot,”“Rising Silence,”and “Khejdi,” saw houseful audiences. 

Visitors were exposed to various international cultures and films over these nine days. Film-makers and film personalities also met film-makers of different cultures. In one sense, this festival was a great example of cultural exchange. Thus ended the 17th DIFF, with the expectation of raising the bar even higher in the next edition.