An array of topics on women in film was discussed at the fifth Dhaka International Conference on Women in Cinema 2019. The conference was organised at Alliance Française de Dhaka by Rainbow Film Society, in association with the Women and Gender Studies department of the University of Dhaka (DU), as a part of the 17th Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF).
Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of International Relations at Dhaka University, inaugurated the conference in the presence of Sydney Levine, director of the conference. Dr Sanzida Akhter, chairman of Women and Gender Studies department at DU, Olivier Dintinger, director of Alliance Française de Dhaka and Ahmed Muztaba Zamal, director of DIFF were also present. Local and international delegates, filmmakers and writers gathered at the conference, which addressed issues concerning women, through the work of the female participants invited from home and abroad. The interactive session also touched base with the #MeToo movement.
Turkish film critic and historian Alin Tasciyan presented a paper that focused on the new generation of contemporary women directors' place in world cinema and their protests against structural male violence. Dr Gitiara Nasreen, professor of Mass Communication and Journalism at DU presented the paper titled, From Screen to Screen: Women's Experience of Watching Cinema in Urban Bangladesh. Indian filmmaker and social activist Dr Debjani Halder presented the paper, Body is not her own: Patriarchy: Violence and prostitution in post nineties none mainstream Cinema: A Critical Feminist Approach Key Words: Body, Sexuality, Violence and Indian Cinema. Montenegrin film theorist and critic Maja Bogojevic Papers presented the paper, Cinematic gaze and gender masquerading: Some film examples. Indian filmmaker and actress Aparajita Ghosh focused on issues surrounding women through her paper, Role of Indian film schools in creating women filmmakers and the paper, What are American women doing to alleviate gender discrimination in cinema? was presented by American writer Sydney Levine.
“Changing the scenario for women is also about developing our own consciousness and raising our families to understand the change in the air. We also would like more men to participate,” remarked Levin. She also mentioned that the next festival would like to include more interactive sessions with film students and young filmmakers.
Professor Alexis Krasilovsky from Department of Cinema & TV Arts, California State University has been conducting lectures on different heroines' journeys for two decades. She said, “The main factor about change is the formulas for the hero's journey. Films can be constructed in different ways based on different cultures.”
'We received an immense response. The conference on women in cinema has become one of the major events of DIFF. Next year, it will definitely be bigger and better," said Ahmed Muztaba Zamal.