Volume 2 Issue 31 | April 12, 2008 |


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From the Insight Desk

Celebrating Life

Zahidul Naim Zakaria

Our pride as a nation comes from our glorious War of Liberation and subsequent independence. It revolves around our heritage, our culture and around our love for our motherland. Growing up in Bangladesh and watching my parents sing along to the patriotic songs on television makes me wonder about how important the media is and how much it fuels patriotism. The media and its various methods of reaching out to us remind us of our past everyday, making sure that we gaze back upon who we are and what we had to sacrifice to ascertain our rights.

The media is important for mass communication and entertainment, and it is in the form of entertainment that we can actually reach the entire population. It is a patriotic song to which our heart goes out; it is a scene from a patriotic film which makes our heart ache; and only a true depiction of patriotism can demand the attention of the youth today, and it is in the grasp of the youth today that the power of change lies. It is the media that simultaneously delivers to the nation and reflects the ups and downs of the nation's pulse.

We see many efforts to help the needy and underprivileged people of our country; musicians and artists are collaborating to raise mass awareness regarding issues like poverty in Bangladesh. Can't we also use art and culture as a means to bring back the patriotism which we, the Bangladeshis had during the genesis of the nation? Can we use the media to trigger patriotism in the youth of Bangladesh today?

I believe we can. But doing so requires initiative and patronage of those can create the right platform which invites and encourages the youth to come forward with their ideas. It requires a “buzz” that goes through the nation and reaches out to everyone in the country and inspires them to come up with ideas that can infuse the public with renewed patriotism. It can make people come together to celebrate and in turn help raise issues of national importance. I believe in Bangladesh's potential talents, but the proof of such talents requires the right incentives to come out into the limelight. This is the main motive of “Celebrating Life”, it envisions the creation of the right platform which appreciates and encourages new talents in the media field of Bangladesh.

Created by The Daily Star and supported by Standard Chartered Bank, “Celebrating Life” is a composite competition, one that brings film, photography and lyrics contests on the same platform. The film contest is a short documentary and fiction film competition based on the theme "Knowing Bangladesh Better". Contestants have been invited to make films on the aspects of our country, culture and heritage. The theme is quite broad really; and filmmakers are allowed to choose to depict any aspect of Bangladesh: nature, culture, lifestyle, commerce, politics and so on for both the fiction film and the documentary. Since Star Insight is the organizer of “Celebrating Life”, the focus is on rural Bangladesh and not urban Bangladesh. The length of the films should be at least 20 minutes and filmmakers are free to choose the upper boundary. We recommend the filmmakers opt for a 45 minute long film so that they can easily find alternate markets for their production. This contest is of great scope. Not only has Channel I agreed to televise the winning films, but the winning filmmakers will have a chance to work with established directors/producers of the country.

In addition to the prize money, Star Insight will negotiate with the filmmakers and offer an additional price to buy all rights on the film. If the filmmaker wishes not to sell, then the entry will only be used for the purposes of the festival.

The photography contest is titled, “Bangladesh - My Love,” which invites photographs taken anywhere in Bangladesh except Dhaka. The photographs should bring to light a positive image of Bangladesh, based on any specific district or region. The top three winners of the photography competition will have an opportunity to work with The Daily Star.

The lyrics contest is also titled, “Bangladesh - My Love,” and envisions motivating young lyricists and poets to write patriotic songs. Entries can be in both English and Bengali, and participants can submit any number of entries. The remarkable aspect about the lyrics contest is that renowned music directors will compose songs based on the winning lyrics, and young and veteran singers will give voice to the songs. These songs will be featured on cassettes and Cds.

Jury boards for film, photography and lyrics composed of nine eminent personalities/experts in the field for each board will judge the submissions. The three contests will feature 26 winners altogether; 4 for film, 10 for photography and 12 for lyrics. Prize money amounting to four lakh fifty-two thousand taka will be awarded to the winners.

To ensure maximum participation and interaction, we have invited the board of Radiofoorti as the FM partner and bangladeshinfo.com as the web partner for “Celebrating Life”. The announcements and results will be broadcasted in print media as well.

After the submissions are judged in July, the Celebrating Life festival will be launched in Dhaka, where the winners of all three contests will be featured. The Dhaka-based festival will commence along with screening on Channel I and Audio Cassette and CD launching.

And then comes the best part. Usually, the best productions and award winning entries of contests remain within city centers like Dhaka. “Celebrating Life” will span across 12 districts! Similar weeklong festivals such as the one held in Dhaka will be replicated in 12 districts of Bangladesh throughout the year 2008, ensuring that “Celebrating Life” is not Dhaka-centric, and that the results of the competition reach out to the whole of Bangladesh. “Celebrating Life” will ensure that the prize-winning films, photographs and lyrics span all around Bangladesh and the people know who the upcoming talents in the media field are.

Without Standard Chartered Bank's generous participation and support, the event would never gain such gravity. That's why we put, Osman Morad, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank on the cover. Mahfuz Anam says, “It is a shift in mindset of Standard Chartered, which being a financial institution has come forward to patronize the artists in their endeavors.” The bank has truly come a long way from their usual activities and has stepped into promoting art and culture in Bangladesh.

Interview with Osman Morad, CEO Standard Chartered Bank
Star Insight : What drew Standard Chartered to the project The Daily Star Standard Chartered “Celebrating Life” Contest?
Osman Morad : We are optimistic about Bangladesh, it is going to be a middle-income country in the near future. However, to get there involves not only financial progress, but also overall socio-cultural development; therefore we were delighted to be a part of "Celebrating Life" in partnership with The Daily Star and contribute towards the development of such creative minds. “Celebrating Life” is all about discovering hidden talent in film, photography and lyrics arena. We believe that, we must support t he growth of the country whilst contributing positively to the society we live and work in.

Our presence in Bangladesh spans over 100 years and during this time we have always believed in projecting a positive picture of the country we operate in, "Celebrating Life" provides an opportunity for us to do that exactly. This can be a great opportunity to showcase Bangladesh globally through participants from all over the country in the three categories. As this contest revolves around the theme of exploring and loving Bangladesh.

S I : It is quite surprising for a financial institution to promote a contest like “Celebrating Life” does this mean that you will be focusing more on art and culture?
O M : As I have mentioned, Standard Chartered is committed to support the community we operate in, we believe that as a responsible corporate citizen we must always project a positive image of the country whether it is through art and culture, CSR or any other area of interest.

S I : Coming back to The Daily Star Standard Chartered “Celebrating Life” Contest, generally good projects that start in Bangladesh but do not continue after the initial contract. Do you think The Daily Star Standard Chartered “Celebrating Life” Contest could meet the same fate?
O M : I certainly hope not, we always take a long term view of our actions. The Daily Star Standard Chartered “Celebrating Life” Contest has been organized to promote creative artists who have tremendous contribution to make towards nation-building and improving the image of the country and promoting the culture and tradition of Bangladesh. Our collective enthusiasm should ensure this project will establish itself as an award that is keenly contested, which in turn will ensure its continuance.

S I : What is Standard Chartered's expectation regarding the winners and winning entries of the contest?
O M : Independent jury boards who will ultimately judge the entries for all three categories will have their own expectations about the winners and winning entry and these are the ones that count. The “Celebrating Life” contest is a great way to encourage new talents and project a better image of Bangladesh by highlighting its natural beauty and cultural heritage.

S I : What is your view about the current scenario of the three streams that The Daily Star Standard Chartered “Celebrating Life” Contest is trying to promote?
O M: Film, Photography and Lyrics are universal forms of expression that can connect people from all walks of life, to my mind the real concern is what will be the scenario of these three categories 10 years from now? Sure we have people like Tarque Masud, Mohammad Rafiquzzaman and many others to be proud of but we need to ensure a steady supply of creative minds capable of keeping Bangladesh's flag flying high for years to come.

There is no doubt that there are many gifted filmmakers, lyricist and photographers out there waiting to be discovered through this contest from all corners of Bangladesh.

S I : Is there anything you would like to add?
O M : I would like to take this opportunity to request anyone who is interested in writing lyrics, film making or photography to come forward with their entries and be a part of The Daily Star Standard Chartered “Celebrating Life” Contest.

Shah Masud Imam, Regional Head of Corporate Affairs, South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank

Star Insight: What drew Standard Chartered to the project "Celebrating Life"?
Shah Masud Imam : Standard Chartered is focused on developing potential talents in this country; "Celebrating Life" provides us such an opportunity.

SI: What is your expectation regarding the winners and winning entries of “Celebrating Life”?
SMI: I believe that we have outstanding talent in Bangladesh; this contest should be a reflection of that through entries from all corners of the country.

SI: To what extent do you think "Celebrating Life" will encourage the youth of Bangladesh to get involved in the media?
SMI: Young people generally love to travel and explore, this love and passion that they have will be expressed through the three categories of this contest.

Rafi Hossain, Festival Coordinator
My childhood has revolved around the media world, and I have seen how hard it is for a young man from a middle class family to actually create a place for him in the media. I have seen my friends and colleagues with great dreams which have faded with time, simply because of the absence of patronage and support.

There have been movements, but none substantial enough to provide a professional opportunity to potential talents. To me, “Celebrating Life” is exactly that opportunity for the unseen talents of Bangladesh. I hope my efforts promote the newcomers in the fields of film, photography and lyrics and give them career driving motivation.

After the initial three years, we envisage to make this contest even bigger. My eventual intention for the film contest is to make the 1st prize much bigger so as to support an actual feature film production of the best filmmaker.

Organized jointly by The Daily Star and Standard Chartered, “Celebrating Life” is a great initiative in encouraging new talents of Bangladesh, since a contest of such proportions in the media field has never been organized before.

The submissions must be in DVD format for preview purposes. Only winners will be asked to provide master copies of their awarded films in DVCAM master format. Submissions must be original and unscreened work of the filmmakers.

The best submissions will be awarded in the following categories: Best Documentary, Best Short Fiction, Special Jury Award Documentary, and Special Jury Award Short Fiction. Cash awards in the amount of Tk. 100,000 each will be given to the two best films, and Tk. 50,000 each to the two special award films.

Size of the entries can be either 16” x 20” or 12” x 16”, and participants are allowed to submit any number of entries.

Ten winners will be selected who will receive certificates, crests and cash prizes. The winner will receive a cash prize of Tk. 25,000, the 1st runner-up entry will receive Tk. 20,000 and the 2nd runner-up entry will receive Tk. 15,000. The rest of the ten winners, 4th to 10th, will receive Tk. 5000 each.

Twelve winners will be selected in two categories: six for English lyrics, and six for Bengali lyrics, who will receive certificates, crests and cash prizes. The winning entries in either category will receive Tk. 10,000 each; the 1st runner's up entries in either category will receive Tk. 7,000 and the 2nd runner's up entries in either category will receive Tk. 5,000. The rest of the twelve winners, 4th to 6th, in either category will receive Tk. 3,000 each.

The last date for submission is 30th June 2008 at The Daily Star.

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