Volume 2 Issue 94| November 27, 2010|


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Cover Story
From Insight Desk

Indomitable in Spirit

When life gives you lemons, what can you do but make lemonade? Such is the spirit of all Bangladeshis, who will take all their hardship as granted, and try their best to crawl out of the mess. Keeping this in mind, this year's competition from Celebrating Life has tried their best to bring out the Indomitable Spirit of Bangladesh and to portray it through photographs, lyrics, and films.
Rafi Hossain & Zahidul Naim Zakaria

Dr. Nowajesh Ahmed was with us, and will remain with us forever. We hope for him to be in a better place, and in peace. We from the Celebrating Life will remember him always, and he will be with us for as long as we are here.

When the odds are against us, some of us give up, and some don't. People often look at those who swim against the tide with eyes full of pity; people opine that their daredevilry is stupidity. But what separates them from the masses is not simply there will to persist, but also their strength of belief, their confidence in bringing change. These are the men and women that history remembers. What separates them is the trail of unbelievable achievements they leave behind, most of the times at the sacrifice of their own lives.

Bangladesh was born out of the acts of such people. Our predecessors have fought in the face of subjugation and death, and they have set us free.

Bangladeshis have given their lives to fight for causes that are worth standing up for. And brave we have remained. Even after witnessing rampant corruption and a miasma of social injustice, we remain positive and look forward to tomorrow as a better day. Against insurmountable odds, we persist. Over and over again, we have survived nature's wrath, and instances of natural disasters in the country is abundant. Amidst terrible traffic jams and power cuts, we, as an economy, grow at nearly 6% every year. We are resolute, and our spirit is indomitable. Celebrating Life 2010 set out to celebrate that very spirit in all Bangladeshis.

Celebrating Life is a yearly competition that factors in three creative arts: films, photography and lyrics. People from all over the country of all ages and ethnicities are free to participate in one or all parts of the three contests, as long as their submissions reflect that year's particular theme. The competition has been organized jointly by The Daily Star and Standard Chartered since 2008, and will be organized in the years to come. The theme for Celebrating Life 2010 was Indomitable Bangladesh: inviting films that portray characters that rise against dominance, photographs that carry the message of those who won't back down in the face of oppression and injustice and songs that are indomitable in spirit. We have received thousands of entries from hundreds of participants, and as always, the judges have gone back and forth between one tremendous piece of work to another. Our biggest regret always remains the fact that we are unable to award all the good entries and must, by the very nature of a competition, choose the best few.

The well decorated stage waiting to be filled by the 2010 winners.

2010 witnessed the third reiteration of Celebrating Life. And, this year, a new segment called “Critics' Award” was added. What separated Critics' Award from the rest of the three existing components was that it invited tele-films and television drama productions that have already been aired and was not originally created for Celebrating Life. The three existing segments, on the other hand, only accept original and unseen films, photographs and lyrics that have been created for Celebrating Life itself. And accordingly, the Critics' Award section is free from the theme of the contest. The Critics' Awards will celebrate the best professional productions that exist in Bangladesh today; the sufficient room has been made to celebrate every aspect of the production, meaning that awards available are not only for directors and actors, but also for camera work, sound, makeup, etc. We were amazed to see the response to the new segment, and are quite pleased with the submissions that we have received.

This year's Celebrating Life is closer to our hearts for yet another reason. This is also the first time the organizers have introduced “Lifetime Achievement Awards” for all three contests. As the name suggests, this award will be bestowed upon a veteran film maker, a photographer and a lyricist/song composer. I am sure that none of us who were part of Celebrating Life last year have been able to forget Nowajesh Ahmed, who left this world without warning on the day of the Award Giving Ceremony of Celebrating Life 2009. Celebrating Life had the privilege of having Nowajesh Ahmed as the head of the team of Judges of the Photography section last year. He was not only an accomplished photographer, but also a well-known scientist and academician. Celebrating Life's Lifetime Achievement Award in Photography will be conferred in his name and memory.

Participants and stakeholders who have been a part of Celebrating Life through the years know that Celebrating Life is not only a competition where the best of the existing pool of participants are awarded. In order to maintain the stature of the awards of Celebrating Life, a minimum bar on quality has been placed and will always exist. This means that if none of the submissions were up to the mark, then the jury panel may very well decide not to award anyone in a particular category. This not only protects the prestige value of the competitions, but also that of the awardees in other segments of the current year and in years to come. This is precisely why last year, in Celebrating Life 2009, none of the films were awarded. But we remain hopeful about film making in Bangladesh, and recognizing the need for capacity building, Standard Chartered Bank and The Daily Star are putting together plans to organize workshops and discussion sessions for both film making and lyrics writing.

In keeping with the popularity of the contest, the values of the awards are going to go up in the future. At the moment, for future Celebrating Life contests, the organizers are considering prize money to be about 5 lac taka for the winning film, 1 lac taka for the winning photograph, and 50 thousand taka for the winning song.

Although the results are in, I can't mention them yet! The winners, the honourable mentions and the lifetime achievement winners of Celebrating Life 2010 will be announced at the Award Giving Ceremony being organized at Osmani Memorial Hall on 30th November 2010. Only three days to go. Are you coming?

Artists at rehearsal for a group song to be performed

Stories of Success and Failure

Award has always been a commodity of joy. A competition has always been described through winnings and losses. Whenever a competition is organized, it is mandatory to keep in view that there will be a loser, and there will be a winner, whether it is you or I. Even though it is in our nature and a common enough practice to say it aloud, we are always defiant in accepting this fact. One always praises the judges and jurors when they emerge the winner of a competition saying that no one else would have been more deserving of such an honor, yet when the same person fails to board the platform of the winners' circle no one else complains louder expressing the injustice and the meaninglessness of the competition. I personally am against such a practice and think that such attitude should be amputated

from one's thoughts. We should thusly practice a code of sportsmanship that uphold the decisions of the judges to be fair and ultimate, be humble in accepting the outcomes of a competition, and be tolerant and appreciative towards the other who wins, even if it is not “me”. It should always be reflected upon that the outcomes of a competition is not the end of the world. The results signify only the quality of the work

Nakib Khan and his band Renaissance will perform one of the winning lyrics as a group song

submitted and taken under account as entries into a competition in an allotted amount of time. Maybe the results are not always to the likings of a competitor, but that does not mean it should be a source of discouragement. Rather this should be encouraging for a participant that tells the person that there is room for improvement and room for raising the bar for existing potentials to do better the next time to try and win harder. Losing out on a competition does not mean failure, but it actually portrays that someone else from the same profession has succeeded in taking that profession to a higher level. It would rather be a failure for the profession itself if encouragement is not shown from the participants themselves towards the winners this time around, only because they themselves were not chosen for the honors. Such mentalities should be changed into more positive ones, holding in everyone's hearts that “this has not been a loss for me, rather it has been a win for my profession”, and practices of not attending the award giving ceremonies shunned so that support is shown for what one does. Since the beginning it has been such, and will remain so in the future but it is up to all of us to bring about the change so that competitions are held only for the sake of competitiveness, for the sake rejoicing the best works, and for the sake of making each experience count. The true champion is the person who learns to rise even after a great fall.

Organizing such huge events is never children's play. The amount of work and effort that needs to be put into organizing them means work non-stop, without sleep, eat, or drink for the organizers so that success is achieved every time. The assistance required is mostly never there to overcome hurdles, but when acquired becomes the mention of gratitude. This has always been the case, and will never cease to be but the show must go on! We at the Daily Star are very grateful and honored to have The Standard Chartered Bank Bangladesh by our side as our partner, for without them such success could not have been achieved three years in a row in organizing the contests and the Awards Giving Ceremonies. The former CEO of the Standaed Chartered bank Bangladesh, Osman Murad, and Shah Masud Imam, the previous Corporate head, had been most helpful to us when we had started this journey, and the same amount of help if not more has been shown to us by the incumbent CEO, Jim McCabe, and Bitopi Das Choudhury, the Corporate head of our partner. We hope this relation between us will strengthen over time as we continue embarking on this cause.

Photography Judges
Dr. Rashidur Nobi Shuvro
Anila Haque
Shafiqul Alam Kiron
Gitanko Dutta
Raffat Binte Rashid
Lyric Judges
Anup Bhattacharya
Abid Anwar
Munshi Wadud
Kabir Bokul
Bitopi Das Chowdhury
Film Judges
Tareque Masud
Shameem Akhtar
Sajedul Awal
Kamran Sunjoy Rahman
Rafi Hossain

Shakila Zafar rehearsing to perform on of the winning lyrics for 2010

As said before, all those who lend out a helping hand end up in notes of gratitude. And so, we are grateful to all the music directors, singers, and choreographers who have helped us in making all of this a success. It is comparatively easy to start something, but to sustain it throughout the years is not so. Over the past three years we have overcome hurdles, gained success and have been able to sustain the programme so far. Yet, this journey was not an easy one. We have at times tasted the bitterness of failure, but have learnt to pick ourselves up, as we have kept in mind that this will continue into the next year, the year after that, and so on. Such is also the case for each participant. Why should it matter if one did not win? There is always next year to try again and do better! None should be discouraged through disappointment. And so, we invite all the participants to come and join us in rejoicing the success, and the promise of future successes, in the ceremony to be held on the coming 30th of November.


Fahmida Nabi is directing music for the song sung by Shakila Zafar. What is Fahmida discussing with Sadia Afrin Mallik?



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