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Ahmed Muztaba Zamal: An enigma in Dhaka Film Festival

  • Published at 09:28 pm September 23rd, 2021
Ahmed Muztaba Zamal
Festival Director of Dhaka International Film Festival, Ahmed Muztaba Zamal with film critic Klaus Eder and film director Adoor Gopala Krishnan Courtesy of INP/Mathew

Even during the pandemic, he pulled off arranging DIFF with all the required safety measures, and that also teaches us, 'When there is a will, there is a way'

It was around 2012, my first visit to Dhaka with my documentary on Ritwik Ghatak when I met an enthusiast in Dhaka International Film Festival, Ahmed Muztaba Zamal- also known among us as Shovan Bhai. I was quite amazed to find the mastermind of the festival who has been managing everything with his young brigadiers with a smiling face. 

After that, I came to Dhaka almost 4 times and whenever I have met and communicated with Ahmed, his dedication, commitment for cinema and scholarships- have been the greatest inspiration for me and all the film lovers and film curators in the world of cinema. 

So, whenever I got chance to amass my thoughts, I had always had great eagerness to explore Ahmed’s journey into the world of cinema.

The Beginning of it All

Ahmed Muztaba Zamal was born in Tangail district, in a middle-class family where love-honesty-morality were most basic components of the house. He was the second eldest among five siblings. His parents were working parents.  His father was a humble, honest government servant and mother was a school teacher who always tried to manage household chores within minimal resources.  

As a school teacher, she believed that education could only be the strongest medium to get socio-economic and intellectual upgrade in life. Her aspiration on education always motivated Ahmed and his siblings to extend their dreams as far as they go. 

The Strength behind the Success

Ahmed got married to the woman he loves in 1989, after finishing his education. When he became the father of two daughters, his life changed completely. Along with his mother- his wife and daughters then became a pillar for him- his backbone! 

As that part grew and Ahmed’s works in DIFF started gaining its name in Bangladesh, following 2013 and 2014, both his parents passed away. Ahmed believes that his parents’ blessings are with him and it will help him further his dreams, even though they are gone- his dreams that are centralised in making Dhaka International Film Festival much bigger. 

Nostalgia and fall for Cinema

From the very beginning, Ahmed confined him into the utopian world, which helped him escape and travel beyond the harsh reality in the materialistic world. Ahmed had great interest and enthusiasm for films and wanted to explore as a film curator. During an interaction, he explained what an enormous impact the Soviet Cultural Centre in Dhaka (established in 1972) had in his life. 

“The Soviet Cultural Centre became a place that I frequented. The number of movies that I watched thereafter, honestly, I cannot even count. It was secondary whether or not I understood the contents of the movie, the dialogues and the rest. But what mattered to me back then was how amazing I felt by simply being there. I would watch the same movies over and over again. Slowly as my visits became more frequent, I started growing a deeper "sense of understanding" of the films I watched. Some of the all-time classic films that I watched at The Soviet Cultural Center are: “Battleship Potemkin” directed by Sergei Eisenstein, “October: Ten Days That Shook the World” directed by Sergei Eisenstein, “The Cranes Are Flying” directed by Mikhail Kalatozov, “Fate of a Man” Directed by Sergei Bondarchuk, “Ballad of a Soldier” directed by Grigori Chukhrai, “Chapaev” directed by the Vasilyev brothers, Andrei Tarkovsky films “Ivan's Childhood”, “Andrei Rublev” and “Solaris”, “The Dawns Here Are Quiet” directed by Stanislav Rostotsky, “Ashik Kerib” directed by Sergei Parajanov, "Dersu Uzala" Directed by Akira Kurosawa, and “The Goat Horn” a Bulgarian film directed by Metodi Andonov, etc.,” he said. 

Russian Cultural Centre opened a new world of cinema in-front of him. 

From a very young age, Ahmed was keen about cinema and literature. During his childhood, though it was a kind of luxury to afford television for any middle class family, Ahmed managed to either way find his interest by the age of 12. 

By the mid-1970s when he was one of the sincere spectators of the Russian films- he was introduced with the ever super hit Bengali movie, Harano Shur, directed by a well-known Bengali film director Ajay Kar. It could be claimed that by early 1950s, Bengali cinema’s negotiation of a linguistic and spatial equivalent of ‘disputed’ and ‘lost’ nation led to it trying to constantly spatialise Calcutta, offering several possibilities to reinterpret the metropolis visuality in and of the postcolonial city. Calcutta provided Bengali cinema a habitation, a metaphor of modernity and a spatial equivalent of a nation. A substantive share of Bengali cinema’s spatial turn was within the formal configurations of melodrama, the talisman of which was the star figures of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen. Both of their effortless urbanity stood vanguard to the popular-modern of postcolonial Bengali cinema, while his films also provided a sustained critique of the same. 

Film Society Movement: Rainbow Film Society: Struggles began

Films are often useful for knowing the history of ancient world. After the Independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the young filmmakers tried their best to uplift and recover the broken and stolen tradition of the beautiful Bangladeshi cine culture. That was the time when, slowly many Film Societies started opening up and almost 79 independent cine clubs and societies were established.  

Rainbow Film Society started off exactly like this and for this purpose. On the 25th July of 1977 at Green-Road colony community centre, arranged a gathering of film workers and unanimously had taken a decision to start a film society namely 'Rainbow'. On the 9th August '77, a group of enthusiasts made a petition to the Secretary General of Bangladesh Federation of Film Societies to become one of its members. From 1977, Rainbow took off with the initiative of Mostafa Kamal, M. Latifur Rahman, Restadul Islam, Khandakar Kamruzzaman, Khandakar Masiur Rahman, Belayet Hossain, Pinu Mostofa, Mokammel Hossain, Jafreen Alam and Ahmed himself. 

The Rainbow family

Officially Rainbow started a little after few months on 26th December 1977 at the Russian Culture Centre. On the consecutive days 26, 27 and 28 December, they got permission from the former Soviet Cultural Centre to hold an inaugural program of Rainbow. The food advisor of Bangladesh Government during that time Mr. Abdul Momen Khan consented to inaugurate that newly found society. Taeb Uddin Ahmed had presided over the opening ceremony. The Secretary-General and President of Rainbow respectively as Md. Mostafa Kamal and Latifur Rahman had given speeches. The special guest was V. I. Titaev who was head of the Soviet Cultural Centre at that time. At the end of the ceremony, there was a film screening. 

On that day in courtesy of Soviet Embassy, the film 'White Bird with Black Mark' was screened which gain the gold medal of Moscow Film Festival. On the following day that is on December 27, there held a seminar on 'Film and Society'. At the ceremonial end the Bengali Film 'Palanka (The Bed)' directed by Rajen Tarafdar, was screened in courtesy of Anis Films (Dhaka). On the third day that is on the last day of the inaugural session, December 28, orchestrated a very pleasant cultural show by the artists of the society. After the end of the cultural show the Soviet Film "The Poem of two Hearts" was screened. 

The 15th DIFF Opening Ceremony with President Md Abdul Hamid, Finance Minister A M Abdul Muhith, and State Minister Shariar Alam MP

From the first, Rainbow Film Society had organized different activities like Film Shows, Seminars, Workshops, Symposiums, Film Sessions and it took place in various places in Bangladesh. Back then, Rainbow had many branches in different districts. From 1977 till 1981 they were situated in Chittagong, Rajshahi, Gaibanda, Tangail, Mymensingh and so on… Besides this, on every anniversary of Rainbow, the film society started to bring out a publication, earlier named ‘Nikkan’ and more changed names, which in 1982 got permanently renamed as Celluloid. This publication has since then been a hard and bumpy journey, but Rainbow has remained consistent. 

Rainbow Film Society continued the Film screenings for a few years, until 2006. But due to the change in generation and their values, unfortunately, it had to stop their monthly activities like the Film Screenings, Seminars, etc, that they used to do in initial years. However, Ahmed and other members prostrated their biggest venture yet in 1992 which have consistently celebrated till date by the celebration of Dhaka International Film Festival and publishing one of the well-known international film journals Celluloid. 

From the very beginning Justice Kemaluddin Hossain, Professor Kabir Chowdhury, Dr. Mohammad Moniruzzaman, Dr. Selim Jahan, Abdus Selim, Kishwar Kamal, M. Shafiqur Rahman, Mofidul Haque, Rabiul Hossain, Syed Marghub Morsheed, Mijarul Quayes, Mizanur Rahman, Dr. Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah and others were with the patronisers of the festival. 

The general theme of the festival is ‘Better Film, Better Audience, and Better Society’. The Festival has been organized on a regular basis by 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 1977.

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. 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.

Earlier, DIFF had faced a little trouble with getting some recognition. But it got graced by Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as she inaugurated DIFF in 1997. As they started to progress, they got lucky again, in 2010, our Honourable Prime Minister inaugurated DIFF for the second time. That is when DIFF took the high road and was rising somewhat. And then, Honourable President- Mr. Abdul Hamid had been kind enough to inaugurate DIFF in 2016. Nevertheless, DIFF particularly has got blessed since the last few years. 

Ahmed and his team got some special enthusiastic hands that have willingly included themselves in DIFF. Namely, Shahriar Alam MP, M Hamid, Jalal Ahmed, Samia Zaman. Their participation has motivated the people of Rainbow and given them mental strength. 

In the short span of twenty-nine years, DIFF has attained international recognition with nineteen festivals held in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 respectively.  DIFF is confident that like the earlier events the festival would succeed in creating awareness among all concerned about the need for making and viewing good films.

Ahmed mentioned during an interaction, “You already know, I started this festival in 1992, and till now I am running it. And if everything goes well, then the coming year, 2022 January, will be the 20th edition of the festival and its 30th anniversary (as in the middle it used to be held with a year gap).  Dhaka International Film Festival -DIFF is an independent film festival and it has built its reputation in South Asia. And our main aim is to help independent filmmakers and their artistic work. We were never about commercialism nor did we show cheap entertainment over artistry. Our main idea was to promote a cinema culture that is cultural and aesthetic. Organizing DIFF has been a great struggle. Every edition was a fresh start, as there is no permanent venue, the arrangement of halls- and then in those ordinary halls, the instalment of updated equipment, and taking care of other screening facilitates took a lot of effort to make it a worthwhile screening time. As there is also no permanent funding pathway, we are always unsure about it, we are always unsure whether the previous sponsors will continue to support or not. And that is a huge pressure on me both physically and mentally. Now, I am a little worried about the future of this festival. I might be able to run this for the next 5 years if everything goes well but, I am worried how far I can take it. The future really concerns me and I keep wondering what will happen to it and if anyone else will be able to run with this much determination or not. 

Ahmed did not stop trying his best over the years. Even publishing Celluloid was never halted. Nonetheless sometimes Ahmed expressed how difficult it is every time to bring out Celluloid due to the lack of articles.

With Mrinal Sen and Others Film Personalities

An editor of the journal Shri Ahmed explained that “…it has become hard eventually and continues to become every time as articles are scarce now. Receiving good writing is like a treasure now. Especially, the marketing policies have become so commercial that we do not get the opportunity to spread the word without being commercial ourselves. Advertising a magazine like Celluloid is not in their list or anywhere near their marketing consideration. This cine publication of ours is 40 years old now. We are fighting with our abilities and pushing ourselves to the edges to make Celluloid more preferable as a printed book. Though we did in the middle for about 3 years try it the new way, by publishing it online without printing them. The media house who was helping us maintain our website for Celluloid had met some inconvenience and unfortunately, all our documents were lost. There were some precious archives that we lost completely and there are no remaining traces of any of the articles, no hardcopy neither soft copy. The company has shut down. The website being hacked about 3 times and crashed over a 100, we stopped relying on artificial intelligence and came back to pages. We believe the printing industry is facing a big downfall but we also believe that book lovers will never stop loving books. Celluloid will always come out as books and people will eventually understand the value of a shelf filled with images through words. Even with so much difficulty, Rainbow Film Society will till the end publish Celluloid and organize Dhaka International Film Festival, even if it costs us our last breath. The printed media and healthy cine culture shall live on...     

Ahmed’s journey in the cinema world has been fascinating through it all. As a film director, Ahmed made several documentaries that started with Truth and Beyond in 2006, Smritir Minar in 2007, and Pahela Baishakh in 2011. Besides that, he has roamed around the world and gained experience in several sectors, different cultures, and languages.

The Munich to the Busan: An Endless Chapter

Ahmed was eager to travel the world. His wishes came to reality when as the part of the Rainbow film society Ahmed had a scope to visit Munich. H Lechner, former director of the Goethe-Institute Dhaka being impressed with Ahmed’s work, sent him as a delegate to Munich International Film Festival in 1991, end of June. There he had a scope to interact with Adoor Gopala Krishnan,  Derek Malcolm and Klaus Eder. 

 

The Journey with FIPRESCI

In the year 1994, Ahmed went to the 25th Indian International Film Festival in Kolkata, which was a significant moment in his life. There he met Adoor Gopala Krishnan for the second time, who invited him over for dinner where Derek Malcolm was also present. 

Even though he had met them once before, this meeting was eventful for Ahmed. The dinner that night was a chance to connect with these personalities on a different level. 

During the dinner, Derek Michael Malcolm advised Ahmed to launch a Bangladeshi chapter of International Film Critics Federation- FIPRESCI and suggested that Ahmed should create a specialist team of 5-7 people who would help him in the process. After Ahmed came back to Dhaka with that advice in mind, he consulted Professor Kabir Chowdhury, Dr. Mohammad Moniruzzaman, Santosh Gupta and a few other people regarding it all.  As per Ahmed, it was the 24th of January, 1994. 

From there started the journey of International Film Critics Association of Bangladesh- IFCAB. And the official recognition of IFCAB started from the year 1995 when FIPRESCI accepted its membership during their annual general meeting. In 1997 IFCAB organized a workshop on Film Criticism with Klaus Eder as the course director. That was the beginning of their collaboration with FIPRESCI. In 1998, he was selected as a FIPRESCI jury in the Berlin Film festival. In 2001 Shri Ahmed participated in the FIPRESCI annual general meeting which was held in Saint Vincent, Italy. He has been participating in the FIPRESCI annual general meeting ever since. 

At the Bari International Film Festival (Italy, March 21-28, 2015), FIPRESCI held its annual general meeting and also celebrated its 90th anniversary with a series of master classes and award ceremonies dedicated to Alan Parker, Jean- Jacques Annaud, Costa-Gavras, Ettore Scola, Andrzej Wajda, Edgar Reitz, Margarethe von Trotta and Nanni Moretti. He felt privileged to have been a part of this event alongside such personalities. 

23rd Fajr International Film Festival, Tehran, Iran. January 31- February 10, 2005. Award CeremonySpiritualCinema
 Jury Peter Malone, Tadao Sato, Krzysztof Zanussi, Abdollah Esfandiari and Ahmed Muztaba Zamal
      

Iranian Films

Iran has undergone considerable social upheaval since the revolution and this had been reflected in its cinema. It was a chance to encounter, almost like he stumbled upon to Iranian films. However, Ahmed was not concerned about what a country like Iran had to offer. During his time at Munich in 1991, after finishing lunch one fine day in Gasteig (a cultural centre in Munich), when he was waiting for the next film on the schedule, he noticed a huge queue of women covered from head to toe along with other family members waiting to enter a screening hall. He was surprised to find them so eager and it fascinated Ahmed seeing their participation in Art and Culture. The curiosity of the huge queue led Ahmed to check out what was really being screened in that hall. 

And there it was, his first Iranian film- Bashu, the Little Stranger. Ahmed expressed his splendid attachment with the film in these words “…I still cannot wrap my head around the beautiful cinematography rather this masterpiece of Bahram Beizai. Bashu a young boy from the war-torn Southern Iran sneaks abroad in a northbound truck after he witnesses the utter horror of his parents being killed in a bomb attack during the Iraq-Iran war. He ends up in a Northern Iran village and while wandering about the poor boy falls asleep in a lean-to beside a rice paddy belonging to a young mother, Nai, raising two children of her own. The story sets off from that point delivering a beautiful, melancholic yet a powerful message signifying the cultural difference of Southern and Northern Iran but also depicting the unity and the harmony of Iran as a whole. And that is how it all started. My journey with Iran, Iranian films and its people…”

Ever since that experience, he tried his best to include Iranian films in DIFF. However, he was very saddened by the fact that he could not manage including a single Iranian film when he first organized the Dhaka International Film Festival in 1992. But that did not stop Ahmed’s pursuit. He made sure that he included more than one entry of Iranian films in the second edition of DIFF in 1993. His love towards Iranian films was noticed, it was outpouring. And soon, he was invited in the Fajr Film Festival in 1994 with the help of Iranian Cultural Centre in Dhaka- the ones who arranged his invitation. 

Today, Iranian films have their own slot and priority in the Dhaka International Film Festival. We cannot imagine DIFF without films from Iran. Ahmed always invites his Iranian counterparts in DIFF to grace festival with their worthy presence. Iran, Iranian films and Iranian people have a special place preserved in his life and that would never change. 


 

Religion Today Film Festival

It's always exciting and alluring for Ahmed whenever he has been attending any cinema related event, because there is always a scope to be introduced with several approaches of the World of Cinema, meet new people, be it actors or directors. In the year of 2004, he went to attend the Fajr Film Festival in Iran, and he met to Lia Giovanazzi Beltrami, founder of the Religion Today Film Festival in Trento, Italy. 

What makes her exceptional? The name itself- Religion Today. 

As she elaborated, Ahmed was immediately captivated to know more about this festival, but in person. The Religion Today festival meant to promote public discourse on the place of faith and spirituality in the human context. The idea is for viewers to distinguish between elements of identity in spirituality as opposed to the abuse of faith in fundamentalism. The showcasing of films on spirituality would promote greater cross-cultural understanding and tolerance and facilitate dialogues within communities.

In an interaction Ahmed express his salvation towards Religion films, “…as I spoke to her, I recalled how I experienced a Tunisian film “The Thousand and One Voices” directed by Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud, back in 2001 during 58th Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica di Venezia , where I was astonished to relate the directors portray of his personal journey with his family on spirituality, and that made me eager to know more about Religion Today as I had that very eagerness since I watched that film on beliefs. Ben Mahmoud, whose tall figure flashes through the film, explains that his father was a high-ranking member of a mystical brotherhood in Tunisia. It was organized around the cult of 13th century mystic Imam Chadhily, who taught reunification with God through spiritual exercises and chanting…. So, I made it there to Religion Today Festival as an International Jury Member in the following year of my meeting with Lia. That was the beginning of my journey in the spiritual world, later influenced of which I myself ended up making my own documentary ‘Truth and Beyond’, focusing on spirituality in my country…” 

At present The Spiritual Section is one of the significant categories in DIFF, which he introduced in 2008, with the help of Katia Malatesta and Simone Semprini. It is a popular part of DIFF even now.

 

Kazan International Muslim Film Festival

Ahmed was always upset that he travelled a lot of countries to attend international film festivals but never went to Russia, a country he always wanted to visit.  But then in 2017; he met the program director of the Kazan International Muslims Film Festival, Albina Nafigova in Iran during the Fajr Film Festival in April. From that acquaintance, Ahmed received the invitation from Kazan International Muslim Film Festival (held in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia) to join as an international jury. It was the 13th Kazan International Muslim film festival, which was held from 5th to 11th September, 2017.

It made him speechless when he discovered the incredible culture and city and hospitality of the people. There Ahmed once again had a scope to meet new people, new delegates from several courtiers, including a scope to watch a couple of good films.  

Even now he becomes nostalgic when he recalls his journey in Tatarstan. “…surprisingly, I found this thousand-year-old city where 2 million people live to have a half of the population of Muslims. I heard the call for prayer from many mosques and youths walking in Islamic clothing, it just felt like an Arabian city. The co- existence made me startled. It was very pleasing to see that Muslims and Christians are living together in peace. Economically, the city is quite advanced. After Moscow and Saint Petersburg, this city is known to be the most growing city in Russia. I am truly glad to have been able to visit the city, and also the fact that now we- Dhaka International Film Festival, have an understanding with the Kazan International Muslim Film Festival. Hopefully, we will have a co-operation. On this matter, I had a meeting with the Cultural Minister of Republic of Tatarstan Ayrat Sibagatullin and also the festival director  Milayausha Aytuganova. I am really looking forward to work together with them in near future…”

Berlin

In the year 2018, he was invited third time as the FIPRESCI jury in the 68th annual Berlin International Film Festival Berlin tour. From the Berlin Film festival, he learned how the movie business is a fast-moving world, in which new technologies can turn existing practices upside down and where everybody looks for ways to “make it.” 

It is an extraordinary approach that defines regular approaches to education and career development. It seems, then, that the education of the filmmaker does not stop once training in a well-established film school has been completed. Instead, the initiation of young talent into key practices merely begins at this point, as does the major process of sifting out the lucky few, who succeed, from those who will continue to struggle throughout their professional careers.   

In his personal memoires he wrote, “After 18 years, I had the opportunity of attending one of the most prestigious and important festivals in this world- The 68th Berlin International Film Festival, which was held from February 15-25, 2018. I always preferred to attend The Berlinale Forum, or the International Forum of Young Cinema, which is the place for focusing on young filmmakers, works by well-known filmmakers with a unique style. These can be found beside the debut films from promising new directorial enthusiasts. The Forum consists of experimental and documentary films from around the world with a unique emphasis on screening works by youths. There is no format or genre boundaries, and films in the Forum do not compete for winning awards. Christoph Terhechte has been running this forum since 2001…”     

With the President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, 2013

 

The land of Henrik Ibsen: Norway

Ahmed went to several places as the jury, as an enthusiast. From every festival he gained experience and that not only enriched his knowledge, but also it has strengthened the cultural diversity of DIFF.  

During the 47th Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund, when he arrived at the Oslo airport on August 19, it was almost 12 noon. At the same time, because of multiple arrivals, the immigration section was packed up with around 500 people. One hour passed, people were slowly leaving the hall. Suddenly, he noticed a man with a box, distributing water bottles. He did not understand it first. But then he realised, it was hosted by the airport itself, distributing water to the crowd. It made him realise, humanity is here. He got embraced by the goodness of Norway. This may seem to be a small gesture, but small is big. His one of the beloved friends Gyda Myklebust and her husband Åge Hoffart, both from Norway are beautiful human beings and are two close people to his heart. He stays at their house every time he visits Norway and they treat him like their own every time. Their hospitality always amazes him. 

‘Man proposes God disposes’, a very popular proverb. Before he travelled to Norway, he used to dream of the festival hotel, Scandic Maritim, where he stayed before. He explained the scenic beauty like “…This is all because of the ambiance. The river that flows beside it, and the beautiful view from the breakfast room, that shows small boats going by. No one can understand it if they do not experience it, how beautiful the nature of that place is. Calming and addictive. But the disappointment arrived when I got to know that we were staying at a different hotel this time. Every year, I take a picture standing near the Marilyn Monroe statue that is there in front of the hotel. The streak got broken this time. However, the memories are vivid and I am waiting to return to that place in the coming years. Hope keeps people alive. This is one of my many hopes….”

Dhaka International Film Festival Today

After his various travels, experiences in the cinema world, Ahmed had brainstormed and brought in new segments to DIFF- Dhaka International Film Festival. Two segments that are very important to DIFF are- Dhaka International Conference on Women in Cinema and West Meets East.

 The Conference on Women in Cinema serves the purpose of a platform that addresses issues concerning women. As women compose half of humanity and the inherent importance and relevance of women's issues in global progress; this 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. 

The West Meets East Screenplay Lab is a special section of Dhaka International Film Festival aimed at bridging the gap between the Western film industry and filmmakers from the East. After the success of the events, DIFF keeps updating the event even more with every edition with the dedicated efforts of co-convenors AKA Reza Ghalib and Sadia Khalid Reeti. West Meets East Screenplay Lab also selects filmmakers from South Asia, giving them an opportunity to network with professionals including  producers, distributors and programmers from the global industry. 

Ahmed managed to pull off DIFF even during the pandemic after the first lockdown got lifted. Luckily, during the festival’s season, Bangladesh faced a comperatively stable situation. Neverthless, the pressure was tremendous.

Ahmed and his team made sure they took the necessary measures to avoid discomfort and disruption in any one’s health- with only 50% seating capacity at the auditoriums and all other safety precautions. 

A Lieu of Conclusion

Ahmed’s journey teaches us how dreams can travel when there is will. His love for cinema and the integration of the cinemas motivated Ahmed to bring DIFF where it is now. 

I get inspired by his dedication. Even during the pandemic, he pulled off arranging DIFF with all the required safety measures, and that also teaches us, “When there is a will, there is a way,” through Ahmed’s determination. 

With several limitations, Ahmed continues to strive, pulling through with his family as his pillar, and with the excellent set of team members of Rainbow Film Society and DIFF.

Ahmed is one of the enigmas in the world of film, who has never lost his hope between all odds. He dreams of taking it further and I have no doubt he will get there some day.



The writer is a documentary filmmaker, film historian and educationist from India 

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