Films are the universal mediums that can serve the purpose of 'infotainment' (information and entertainment) together at the same time - and there are many thought-provoking films are floating in the horizon every now and then, transcending the barriers of language and borders utilizing the power of film festivals around the world. Although the COVID-19 pandemic forcefully altered many festivals in many regions - the biggest and grandest film festival for children in Bangladesh have been successful in the quest of continuing its journey, mesmerizing the young moviegoers.

Chorrusing the slogan "Future in frames", the 14th edition of the International Children's Film Festival Bangladesh (ICFFB) kicked off in the capital on Saturday, January 30 by Children's Film Society (CFS) Bangladesh.

Marking the occasion, a special inauguration ceremony of the seven-day international festival was arranged by CFS which was joined by Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud as chief guest and KM Khalid, State Minister for Cultural Affairs as the special guest at the Sufia Kamal National Public Library on Saturday afternoon. Festival Director Fariha Jannat Mim and CFS programme editor Rayeed Morshed were also present at the inauguration ceremony.

Praising the initiative of organizing the global festival dedicatedly commissioned for children, amid the ongoing pandemic - Dr Hasan Mahmud said that the festival will be remembered as the brooding ground for new and talented filmmakers of the future.

"Alongside education, co-curricular activities are the integral elements that can prepare our children for a better future - and unique festivals like this can tremendously accelerate that combined growth of our children, as films are the best way to showcase the social messages. I am sure that many acclaimed and talented filmmakers will come out through this initiative and uphold the image of our country to the rest of the world," Dr Hasan said at the event.

Reminiscing a particular incident from his childhood, Dr Hasan shared: "One of my closest friends back in my school days cheered me up to participate in a debate programme, which I eventually won and I never lost my spirit and confidence since that incident. This entire festival is being organized by children and youths of our nation, and taking up responsibilities with such confidence is highly commendable."

Echoing similar sentiment, State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid said, "The fact that an international festival like this is being arranged entirely by these young, talented children and youths of our nation, is utterly surprising to me. I am wondering with joy and honour to be associated with this magnificent initiative."

He also addressed his experience of being recently vaccinated under the COVID-19 vaccination programme of the government and said that the citizens including the children and their guardians can take up the vaccine without any fear or hesitation and ignore the propagandas.

The festival then officially began with the screening of the Polish feature film 'Tipple Trouble', directed by Marta Karwowska.

According to the organizers, the 14th ICFFB featured a total of 179 films representing 37 countries, nominated from a total submission of 1,116 films from 81 countries. Films participated from countries namely Bangladesh, India, France, Japan, Italy, Iran, Australia, China and others.

The 14th International Children's Film Festival hosted film screenings at 3 venues in the capital - Shawkat Osman Hall at the Central Public Library, Sufia Kamal Auditorium at the Bangladesh National Museum and National Art Gallery at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.

Under the categories namely Child Filmmakers' Section (Bangladesh and International), Young Bangladeshi Filmmakers' Section, Social Film Section on 'New Normal', International Competition of Films Made For Children and a special Film Competition Section, marking the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence - all films were screened and the awards will be conferred in the concluding ceremony,

Resourceful Workshops, Interactive Sessions:

In addition to the film screenings, a total of four special workshops and a series of interactive sessions were also held at the Sufia Kamal Auditorium of Bangladesh National Museum where celebrated personalities got engaged in youthful conversations with the workshop attendees and audiences.

Film critic and Dhaka Tribune Showtime editor Sadia Khalid conducted a session on scriptwriting, and the first Bangladeshi woman conqueror of Mount Everest Nishat Majumdar joined the interactive session on Sunday, mesmerizing the audiences through narrating her journey to the top.

On Monday, Bangladeshi writer, art director and director Ranjan Rabbani conducted a session on production design while young filmmakers from all over the country who came over to join the festival met in a special 'Face to Face' session and shared their viewpoints on filmmaking.

Filmmaker and festival committee member Abir Ferdous Mukhor conducted a workshop on direction and country's popular singer-songwriter-music director Shayan Chowdhury Arnob joined as a special guest of the interactive sessions on Tuesday.

Noted filmmaker Abu Shahed Emon conducted a special session on the festival circuit and prospects surrounding filmmaking at the Sufia Kamal Auditorium of Bangladesh National Museum on Wednesday, while Freedom Fighters in the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh including Colonel Kazi Sajjad Ali Zahir (Bir Protik), Md Mashrukul Hoque and Marufa Mashruk joined the interactive session with the children and young moviegoers-filmmakers on Thursday at the Studio Theatre Hall of BSA.

Festival Director Fariha Jannat Mim told DC that the festival is being directed following the health guidelines under the directive of the Ministry of Health. She also addressed that no ticketing price was charged this year for the film shows, and the audiences were requested and required to be masked up and that gesture has been counted as the ticket, making an effective alternative during the ongoing COVID-19.

With a hope to return next year without the fear of the pandemic, the 14th International Children's Film Festival will end on February 5 with the closing and award giving ceremony at the National Theatre Hall at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.

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