Vol. 5 Num 272 Thu. March 03, 2005  

Documenting Bangladesh

While "commercial movies" are reigning in the film arena, the documentary films still have a distinctive niche. As a visual medium, cinema itself has an inherent tendency of documenting the ambience. This puts the medium in a position where the visual recording of life and surroundings becomes inevitable. The recently formed Bangladesh Documentary Council has organised a three-day long screening of 14 documentaries, titled Documenting Bangladesh, featuring films made between 1971 and 2004, to project the true picture of Bangladesh. The event also aims at promoting the idea of independent filmmakers as well as creating awareness that documentary films, as an individual genre, can reflect the reality of our culture.

There are films from alternative filmmakers especially documentaries in 35mm and digital video formats, which are relevant to the society and culture of Bangladesh. As far as the subjects go, these films turn into an honest depiction of the moments and life in this delta. Although the cultural nationalism is not in vogue in these days of globalisation, there are a good number of masterpieces of documentary films made since 1971.

The inauguration programme of the screening was held on March 1 at the Shawkat Osman Auditorium of National Public Library. Eminent playwright-art critic Sayeed Ahmed was the chief guest and eminent filmmaker Syed Bazleh Hussein was special guest at the programme. Filmmaker Manzare Hassin Murad is the advisor while Shabnam Ferdousi is the convenor of the programme. After the inauguration, an authentic documentation of the barbaric genocide on Bangladesh in 1971, Stop Genocide (1971) by Zahir Raihan, and a depiction of the lifestyle of people of the shoal area, Sand and Water (2001) by Shaheen Dil Riaz, were screened.

A roundtable on "Encouraging and promoting documentaries in Bangladesh" was held yesterday. Presided over by Syed Bazleh Hussein, the filmmakers Manzare Hassin Murad, Badal Rahman, Morshedul Islam, M Hamid, Aminul Islam, Shabnam Ferdousi, Fauzia Khan and other film critics and activists spoke at the meeting.

Speakers emphasised the need for regular screening of documentary films, organising film appreciation courses and to develop skilled filmmakers, need of an archive for preservation of the documentary films and creating links to different media channels specially TV channels.

After the roundtable, M Hamid's Lathyrism (1982) based on a incurable disease found among the poverty stricken people, Tanvir Mokammel's The Unknown Bird (1996) on the Bauls, Manzare Hassin's Rokeya (1996), Shabnam Ferdousi's depiction of the life of eunuchs Spring of Desire (2003) and Yasmeen Kabir's Swadhinota (2002) were screened.

Today on the last day of the show, My Migrant Soul of Yasmeen Kabir, One Day In Krishnanagar by Manzare Hassin, Tanvir Mokammel and Tareq Masud, The Endless Hurdle by Aminur Rahman, Black House by Tareque Shahriar, Our Boys by Manzare Hassin, Tale of the Darkest Night by Kawsar Chowdhury and Muktir Gaan by Tareque Masud will be screened at the Public Library auditorium.

A scene from the film Tale of the Darkest Night