Sadia Khalid Reeti recently made headlines after being invited as a jury for the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) in the Cannes Film Festival, which starts today. The dynamic young journalist, critic, scholar and activist spares time from her busy schedule for a chat with The Daily Star about her very first trip to the biggest film festival in the world.
Congratulations on being chosen as a jury to the FIPRESCI section in the Cannes Film Festival! What was your initial reaction after receiving the news?
Thank you very much! I got the email very late at night, when I was watching Netflix with my sister and my husband. I became very emotional! The love that I have received after this, especially from media outlets is overwhelming, and I am grateful to everyone for it.
You have served as a jury for other film festivals abroad as well. What are some of the responsibilities of a jury member in a film festival?
My first film festival which I adjudicated abroad, was the Religion Today Film Festival in Italy. I feel like film festivals are all about connecting with the people and culture there, especially if you’re a jury member. Otherwise, one will feel isolated while watching movies there. Since I will have to watch five to six movies per day, as well as judge them, I will have to be comfortable with the festival itself.
What are the criteria for being selected as the jury in the FIPRESCI section in Cannes?
First, one has to be a member of the FIPRESCI. He or she must write regular film reviews, which are up to a certain standard for a while. A formal educational background in film is also important, and my graduation on screenplay from UCLA helped a lot regarding this. Your presence and impact in other major film festivals around the world is also taken into account. Knowing your role as a film critic, and separating your ‘critic’ identity from any other identity you have, e.g, filmmaker, scriptwriter is also crucial.
Do you think there is enough female presence in Bangladesh’s film industry, strictly talking about directors?
Even though I would like more women to step up in these roles, there are certainly many who are doing a great job at the moment. Tasmiah Afrin, the director of Statement After My Poet Husband’s Death, Suborna Senjutee, who made Fish Musings, and of course, Rubaiyat Hossain are some of the names that come to mind.
Criticism is something that the film industry here is still not receptive to, especially if it is negative. What are your opinions on this statement?
For a critic, credibility is everything. People are more likely to take your critique seriously if you build up your credibility whilst writing regular reviews, being a part of international film festivals, or have extensive education in this field. For example, even though I love Tauquir Ahmed’s films, the last one, Fagun Haway did not impress me as much. However, the director took it well. Whilst there are makers who are not willing to accept criticism, the industry is changing and this aspect of it is becoming more professional.