Denizens of Dhaka took advantage of the light traffic of a Friday morning to flock to the locations hosting the 10th International Children's Film Festival Bangladesh. The venues were abuzz with activity from early in the morning, showing signs of growing crowds later in the day. The festival opened on January 24 and will continue till January 30 in Dhaka, Rangpur and Rajshahi. Organised by Children's Film Society Bangladesh, the festival seeks to actively involve Bangladeshi youth in cultural exchange through filmmaking, and promote the nurturing of artistic skills and hobbies.
The main festival venue, Shawkat Osman Hall of Central Public Library in Shahbag raised the curtains at 11am with the screening of “Red Line”, and concluded with “Dipu Number 2” at 6pm. A workshop, held by eminent director Amitabh Reza, as well as a seminar on Climate Change, and a celebrity session with actor Nusrat Imrose Tisha was on the cards later in the day. The films are produced by young filmmakers from 54 countries below the age of 18 and up to the age of 25. Most of the content centres on the everyday lives and concerns of the youth, but the complexities of the themes address mature issues and wider socio-political tribulations.
Shot in different languages across the globe and displaying diverse cultural heritages, the nuances in acting expressions as well as the moving plot lines break barriers in understanding and being able to relate to the characters portrayed, unifying the audience with the films. Nie-year old Sawtha, in the audience, said, “I enjoyed the Iraqi film 'The Boss' the most. Since the films are made by children, it makes me wonder if I can do the same.”
The five-member jury from the Junior Filmmakers' Section comprises of young individuals, with eighth-grader Nirjhor Ahsan being the youngest and university student Achuyat Saha Joy the seniormost. “To judge a film we examine three criteria; 40 for story-telling, 40 for treatment which examines how the story is portrayed, and 20 for production value,” said Autoshi Imdad, a jury member. “Over the years, the quality of films submitted has vastly improved. The filmmakers are also becoming more courageous, addressing current social problems from child marriage and rape to Rampal protests,” said Joy.
“In addition to honing filmmaking skills among the youth in Bangladesh, we are also seeking to build bridges and create a dialogue with international filmmakers,” stated Abir Ferdous Mukhor, Festival Director, “Over the years, there has been a steady increase in the number of film submissions, and we are having more participants under the age of 18. Previously, the festival was more Dhaka-centric, but for the past four years or so there has been a growth in the number of international participants.” Acclaimed film director Amitabh Reza, also present at the festival venue, appreciated the festival's initiative, saying, “As a director I plan on working with children more in my films, and I feel there are vast possibilities to be explored if we cultivate their creativity and skills.”