Bangladesh Film Archive moves to new building | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 03, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 03, 2008

Bangladesh Film Archive moves to new building

The government organisation yet to win confidence of the filmmakers


Prints preserved at the vault of Bangladesh Film Archive; a technician is cleaning a print (left)Photo: AFP

Bangladesh Film Archive (BFA), under the Ministry of Information, has moved from its rented office at Mohammadpur to the National Broadcasting Authority Building (NBAB) at Shahbagh this month.
In the last 30 years BFA has preserved only 2169 films in its vaults. In the library of the archive 3053 books, 14575 photographs, 6677 posters, 1986 screenplay, 9950 film journals and other film related objects and documents have been preserved.
Upon investigating at BFA's previous office at Mohammadpur, it was found that temperature is not properly controlled at the four chambers. Even the temperature and humidity indicators did not work. Ensuring proper temperature and humidity level are very important when preserving negatives and prints of films are concerned.
Director General (DG) of BFA, Dr. Mohammad Jahangir Hossain claims that the air-conditioning system at the vaults of the new BFA venue will be better. "Moreover, as the previous venue was rented, we will save Tk 2 lakh every month," he said.
Can BFA function properly in a restricted zone like NBAB? The DG replied, "There will be a few temporary problems, especially during the weekly film screening sessions, however, we will try to co-operate the interested visitors."
"We will continue our activities at NBAB until we can shift to our proposed own building at Sher-e-Banglanagar. Though the allotted 1.86 acre plot for the building is currently illegally occupied by Mamota Bahumukhi Samabay Samity, an organisation of employees of Public Works Department," the DG added.
BFA has moved several times in the last 30 years. The archive is yet to win the confidence of filmmakers. Most filmmakers do not submit the prints and negatives of their films to the archive, though according to 16 (2) section of Copyright Act 2005, a director must submit a print to BFA within two months of releasing the film.
Renowned filmmaker Tareque Masud addressed the issue: "It's true that the current DG is giving his best possible effort, however, I'm not sure that the prints of my films will be preserved properly at the BFA vault. I have documents that prints of several classic films made in the '60s has turned brittle in the vaults, as the standard humidity and temperature are not maintained there."
"Though the scenario is changing gradually, but unless the archive has its own building with properly working vaults, I'm reluctant to submit my prints and negatives to BFA," he added.
"We have not taken any drastic action as per the Copyright Act 2005, which reads that in case of not submitting the print within 60 days of the film's release, the director will get six months of imprisonment or a fine of Tk 50,000 or both," said the DG, "But we want that the filmmakers to realise the importance of the value of archive."
However, the DG claims that the scenario is changing. "The rate of submitting films at BFA has increased in the last few years. In addition to preserving and collecting prints and negatives, at BFA we have taken a project of collecting available DVDs of films. We have also initiated some research-based programmes," he said.
The DG also informed that three research-based works are almost complete. The researches carried out under BFA are: "Children's Film in Bangladesh: A sociological survey" by Taposhi Burman and Imran Firdaus, "Women on Screen: Representing Women by Women in Bangladesh Cinema" by Bikash Chandra Bhowmik and "Interrelation Between Mainstream Cinema and Cine-journalism: The Current Perspective and Future Prospect" by Aditi Falguni Gayen. Moreover, BFA is going to publish journals regularly.
The current initiatives taken by BFA are highly appreciated by the filmmakers, who are involved with BFA from the beginning. But, they have particular suggestions regarding the government organisation.
The filmmakers suggest that an autonomous body including the involved persons in film industry headed by a curator should run BFA. According to the filmmakers as per functions of the archive the head of BFA should be a curator instead of a DG. For better services, BFA should review its programmes involving the experts, filmmakers commented. They also demand for a permanent building for the archive.
"Besides preserving prints and negatives, the archive should regularly arrange film appreciation courses. Moreover, they should screen films to generate interest amongst the masses," said filmmaker Manzar-e Hasin Murad.
Murad further said, "Like the museum, the archive should display its collections and should also initiate exchange programmes with film archives overseas."
Filmmaker Morshedul Islam demanded for training of the BFA employees. He said, "Print of my film Aagami has been destroyed at the vault of the archive. I know things are improving because of the helpful attitude of the current DG and Secretary to the Ministry of Information. However, technical training of the employees is urgent to preserve the films properly."
DG Dr. Mohammad Jahangir Hossain said, "We have already submitted Bangladesh Film Archive Act '08 for approval from the government. If the government continues its support, we will be able to provide better service."

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