The 17th edition of Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) ended on Friday, January 18, with celebrated local filmmakers and newcomers taking part in the event with much enthusiasm. The biggest screen and the biggest sound—nothing was better than these during the nine-day festival.
Rainbow Film Society organised the nine-day festival with the theme ‘Better Film, Better Audience and Better Society’. Some 220 films from around 72 countries were selected for screening Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, Blockbuster Cinemas at Jamuna Future Park, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Central Public Library Auditorium and National Museum Auditorium.
There were competitions named “Asian Cinema Section”, “Retrospective”, “Bangladesh Panorama Section”, “Cinema of the World Section”, “Children Films Section”, “Women Filmmakers Section”, “Short and Independent Films Section” and “Spiritual Films Section” in the film festival.
‘Little Prince of Our City’ directed by Talgat Temenov from Kazakhstan won the ‘Best Children Film Badal Rahman Award’ while the ‘Best Audience Award’ was given to ‘EK Je Chilo Raja’ directed by Srijit Mukheji from India. ‘Sonatan Golpo’ directed by Masum Aziz from Bangladesh won ‘Best Critic Film by FIPRESCI Jury’.
‘Darak yry’ (The Song of the Tree) by Aibek Daiyrbekov from Kyrgyzstan won the award for best film while the best director award went to ‘Dressage’ from Iran in the Asian Film Competition section. ‘Return’ by Shahriar Pourseyedian from Iran won the best short fiction in Spiritual Film Section.
Like previous years, Rainbow Film Society arranged a two-day ‘Fifth Dhaka International Conference on Women in Cinema 2019’ on Friday where woman filmmakers, actors and personalities from all over the world took part.
Alongside, a two-day International Film Critics Federation (FIPRESCI) Asian region conference was held as part of 17th DIFF on January 13-14. The aim of the conference was to motivate and introduce the Asian FIPRESCI members, who are less prioritised and are not getting the privileges properly.
Another very important segment that the 2019 DIFF arranged in continuation of all the previous festivals is the Children’s Film Section. Around 10 fiction films were screened in this segment. These screenings were ideal family outings and open to all.
Another prominent feature of this DIFF edition was a day-long ‘West Meets East’ programme held on January 14 at the Dhaka Club Samson Lounge. An international film critic, a prominent festival official, a leading academic and an experienced producer participated in the information exchange segment.
Ahmed Muztaba Zamal, the festival director, hosted the event that concluded with a thank you note from filmmaker Samia Zaman. Writer and producer Sydney Levin took part in the programme.
Levin addressed a common misunderstanding among the filmmakers that a high-profile cast of stars was the condition for any film to achieve success in the global market. She clarified that it was important to convey a relatable message through the script.
And what finally appears on the screen is what matters the most, she told the programme.
Celebrated local filmmakers and newcomers took part and spoke at the event. Renowned film director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki had a piece of advice for filmmakers – being choosy about the stories.
He underscored choosing stories keeping the international context in mind.
Tauquir Ahmed pointed out that budget constraint was one of the key issues affecting quality of locally made films. Foreign films that have big budgets usually appear more appealing to the audience.
Abu Shahed, a young producer, noted that Netflix was taking away a big amount of money from its Bangladeshi subscribers. He hoped it would invest in Bangladesh and help the local film industry flourish.