Volume 6 | Issue 06| March 24, 2012|


   Cover Story
   Feature 1
   Celebrating Life
   Feature 2

   Star Insight     Home

Celebrating Life


Celebrating Life Festival:
Enchanting Khulna

What have the graduates of the Celebrating Life Filmmaking Workshops 2011 been doing? People of Khulna were the first ones to find out! With the screening of the films directed by those who participated in last year's workshop, the Celebrating Life Festival at Khulna turned out bigger and more eventful that we imagined. The evening was a memorable one with a photography exhibition that contained winning photographs of the photography contest. After the sun had set, the projection began with students and teachers applauding the films. Filling the gap between the exhibition and the screening ­– the renowned singer 'Tapan Chowdhury' enchanted the audience with some of his most well known songs.

Zia Nazmul Islam

The frequent applause and cheer was the recognition we had hoped for. For us, the organizers of Celebrating Life Film Workshop 2011 (CLFW) as well as the young directors who worked relentlessly to make three different films, the memory of the evening in Khulna University was a defining moment. In a sea of cheerful smiles in the audience – we realized that the first screening was a success. The response was staggering. With enthusiastic assistance from the 35mm KU movie club, the first screening of the films was held in Khulna University (KU) on the evening of 1st March, 2012. The day long event also included an exhibition of the winning photographs of previous Celebrating Life Photography Contests as well as an open air concert featuring Tapan Chowdhury. The Daily Star's Executive Editor Syed Badrul Ahsan and Khulna University's VC Prof. Md. Saifuddin Shah were present at the event.

To refresh the memory of the readers ­– The Daily Star with the support of Standard Chartered Bank organized the Celebrating Life Film Workshop for the first time in 2011. After 3 months of rigorous training 19 workshop participants were selected to take part in directing 3 films. Facilitated by 3 young directors (Nurul Alam Atique, Amitabh Reza and Mejbaur Rahman Sumon), the selected participants were divided into 3 groups which then went ahead to produce 3 films.

Amidst the serene setting of Khulna University, the exhibition of winning photographs of 2011 was the first attraction of the day. The students gathered slowly in the exhibition area and were observing the photographs with inquisitive eyes. There were many 'Photography Contest' entries from Khulna. The students were pleased to learn that not only the people from Dhaka can enjoy participating in events and contests like 'Celebrating Life', but that it tries to engage people from all over the country. Due to the many limitations of living in a city away from the capital, there were many students who didn't know about Celebrating Life contests before that day. English dailies are not always easily available and news of such contests doesn't always reach all ears. Inspired to find many amateur and new photographers among the list of winners, there were many who expressed their interest to participate in this year's Celebrating Life contest.

Photo Exhibition
The Daily Star Executive Editor Syed Badrul Ahsan
Tapan Chowdhury Perfroming
Movie Screening

Later that evening, around at 4pm, the Vice Chancellor of Khulna University and The Daily Star Assistant Editor Syed Badrul Ahsan graced the event with their presence. The inspiring speech of the scholars brought many wandering students into the audience. The VC of KU appreciated the event organized at his campus and felt events like this should happen more often in Khulna. He didn't know about Celebrating Life before that day and suggested that more promotion would be required for the message of the contest to be heard.

Tapan Chowdhury appeared on the stage in the evening. Putting together some of his best songs, he delivered a memorable performance. The magical presence of the great singer brought many more teachers and students into the audience. Teachers and KU staff were already travelling through memory lane listening to Tapan Chowdhury's well known songs. Irene Parveen Layla, a KU graduate and administration officer couldn't believe her eyes when she found him performing at the event. “I am seeing him after such a long time, it brings back so many memories” she said. At the end of his performance he asked the audience to join him on the stage. Many enthusiastic students along with Celebrating Life's Festival Coordinator Rafi Hossain joined him and sang along. At end of the concert, fans were asking for one more song. Tapan Da did sing a few more to quench the thirst of fans. After the concert was over Tapan Chowdhury was surrounded by autograph- and photograph-hungry admirers. After the concert, like many others, Layla too ran towards the stage for a photograph with the beloved singer.

After Tapan Chowdhury's performance, we the organizers were a bit worried whether the films could live up to the expectations or if they would dim the enthusiasm that the great singer had built among the audience. After all, the films were directed by young directors, for most of whom it was the first time they had been part of a project of such magnitude. After a brief speech from two of the film makers, the lights were turned off. With the projector's light being the only one in the room – the audience watched in total silence. As the movie kept playing our hearts kept beating a bit faster for we couldn't see the facial reactions of the audience in the darkness. Within a few minutes through the film, we didn't need to see face of the audience as the first witty dialogue was delivered, the roaring sound of cheer shattered the silence of the screening ground and with it our fears. More and more clever dialogues and carefully selected shots in the film overwhelmed the audience with laughter and awe.

Festival Director Rafi Hossain on Stage among KU students

In the dark we felt that we could see the audience going through the emotions of the cast of the film. Their reactions were testaments to the success of the The Daily Star, Standard Chartered Bank and of course, the facilitators and participants of the workshop. The first film screening ended with a huge applause from the audience, which by then had grown in double the number. Once the lights were turned back on, the clock had already stuck 8:30 pm. Although the audience was asking for more, we simply had run out of time and could not screen the other two films. We too were eager to see the reactions of the audience of the other two films. There are many more district tours and festivals to be organized this year (with one in Mymenshing on 20 March 2012). So far, there is nothing but an immense sense of pride of achievement among the film makers, the organizers and sponsors of Celebrating Life.

The effort of capacity building among young minds to bring creative new ideas into the Bangladeshi film industry was a success. The reaction and enthusiasm found in another city far from the capital was unparalleled. No doubt, film critics will find many mistakes in the story line, dialogue, shot selection, editing and many other aspects in the films. But the main goal of CLFW was to hold a torch towards the path of the young and willing minds. What they do with this exposure of having their work being watched by thousands all over Bangladesh, remains to be seen. We can only hope that one day at least one masterpiece will come out of any of these young directors. That is the prime vision that prompted the initiation of CLFW.

The enthusiasm seen in Khulna and among creative minds like photographers, lyricists and film makers – Celebrating Life 2012 is going to arrange another 'Film Workshop' this year along with its regular contests. Keep your eyes on The Daily Star, Star Insight Magazine and log on to www.celebratinglifebd.com for more information.


Photographs by Zia Nazmul Islam

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