Volume 2 Issue 57 | May 9 , 2009 |


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From The Insight Desk

Reaching out with the Media

Zahidul Naim Zakaria

THE media is more than simply a source of information; it is a mirror of the society's thoughts, its conscience. Sometimes, being audience to the constant flurry of images and news in today's world of globalisation makes us forget how important our origins are.

“Celebrating Life”, a competition, was created by The Daily Star with the intention of laying out a trail of crumbs that can lead us back to our genesis; remind us of what Bangladesh is through pictures and music. It was created to bring forth the colours, faces and diversity of Bangladesh to the public eye through a national competition. The contest just celebrated its first birthday. It is back by popular demand and is bigger and better. After the overwhelming response received last year, the organisers are going to make sure that “Celebrating Life” is held every year. For those who are not yet familiar, “Celebrating Life” is a composite competition, inviting submissions of films, photographs and lyrics entries that showcase various aspects of life in Bangladesh. Organised jointly by The Daily Star and Standard Chartered Bank, this initiative attempts to create a platform for creative expression in a way that hasn't been tried before this.

With this year's theme, “Celebrating Womanhood”, participants have been encouraged to use their creativity to depict all things about women from all walks of lives in Bangladesh. Participants are allowed complete freedom to explore any subject matter of choice within this fairly broad theme. There is an emphasis on producing works that deal with themes outside of urban settings, and mostly dealing with rural Bangladesh. The lyrics contest is more specific, with the theme “Maa”. Winners jump right into more serious work and get to collaborate with professionals. Winning entries of the lyrics competition are made into actual songs by renowned music directors and voice artistes and featured on musical albums.

Probably, the most unique characteristic of the competition is the district-level festival. After the award-giving ceremony of each year's contest and exhibition of winning entries in Dhaka, weeklong festivals will be organised in 12 districts of Bangladesh. The district level festivals were created to reach out to the whole of Bangladesh, and to ensure that “Celebrating Life” is not Dhaka-centric. The winning entries remind us urbanites of what we are missing, and make us think about what we are moving on from. They evoke a sense of nostalgia we never realised we could have. They celebrate life in Bangladesh, they celebrate Bangladeshis. And that is the importance of reaching out. With the district-level festivals of the competition and its final products, such as the musical albums, calendars, t-shirts and books of photography, the results of the competition have been geared up for big things to make sure the talent gets due recognition.

Although the district-level festivals of Celebrating Life 2008 were meant to be launched last year, there was no follow through due to unavoidable circumstances, such as the democratic elections of the country in the beginning of 2009. The festivals will start from May 2009, with the first one in Rangpur beginning 20th May and then one in Bogra from 21st May. Festivals in Sylhet, Comilla, Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Jessore, Khulna, Rajshahi, Barisal, and Mymensingh will be held consecutively and sometimes simultaneously in the months to come.

Everyone is invited to the festivals, and those who want to help organise the festivals are requested to contact us. Let this be an open invitation to all our readers to join the Celebrating Life festivals, whose presence would inspire us tremendously.

As you may already know, the three contests of Celebrating Life 2009 will feature 24 winners altogether; 4 in the film category, 10 in the photography category and 10 for lyrics. Prize money amounting to taka four lakh sixty-six thousand will be awarded. The last date of submission is 30th June, 2009. For further details regarding the contest, including awards, prize money for each award and other specific rules and regulations, please visit www.celebratinglifebd.com.


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