Volume 2 Issue 71| December 5, 2009 |


  Life is a Celebration
  Rising Above The   Rest
  And The Winners   Are
  Verve of Life

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Celebrating Life Special

Rising Above The Rest

Zahidul Naim Zakaria

Yes, what you heard is true! The winners of Celebrating Life 2009 have finally been announced ceremonially at the gala Award Giving Ceremony held on 24 November 2009 at the Bangabandhu International Convention Centre (former BCFCC).

Organizing such a large event is like piecing together a puzzle so that all of its numerous parts join together at the right nook and cranny at the exact right moment. Dozens of sub-events have to be synchronized in order to make the most of what little resources there are: the delivery of the crests and certificates has to be coordinated, the volunteers have to be told where to be and what to do, the stage has to be set up in time for the rehearsal, the rehearsal of the cultural programme has to end before the security sweep by the authorities, the performers have to be told when to arrive, the banners and the columns for the entry point have to be painted and set-up before the guests start to arrive, etc. But at the same time, there is of course the sense of achievement when it all comes together to compensate. Keeping in mind that Celebrating Life is a competition spanning across the entire nation in three independent fields (film, photography and lyrics), the reach of the competition is enormous. This event was where more than 2100 participants would find out which entries of over 6000 submissions had risen to the top of the list.

We are very thankful to the artists and performers who lent their star-power to the award giving ceremony with dance performances and songs. The programme had started off with a ensemble dance performance titled 'Tribute to Womanhood', performed by Shormila Bandapadhya, Shukla Sharkar, Munmun Ahmed and Tabassum Ahmed. The music for the performance was directed by Ajay Kumar Shikder, the script written by Mahidul Islam, and voice over was provided by Dahlia Ahmed. The prime attraction of the night was Runa Laila's song based on the winning lyric (English), with music direction by Foad Naser Babu. The organizers applaud her through sense of professionalism, a trait that she has always maintained. The organizers also thank Shubir Nandi, who worked hard to complete both the songs performed by Ferdous Ara and himself. In fact, one of the songs was mastered on the very morning of the 24th! Amongst other performers, Ferdous Ara and Fahmida Nabi had to shorten their foreign trips in order to attend and perform at the Award Giving Ceremony. The organizers are also grateful to Krishno Koli for her wonderfully evocative song, with music direction and arrangement by Orka and Emon. Fahmida Nobi's solo performance was originally supposed to be a duet with Kumar Bishwajit, who couldn't be present because of his mother's illness. But, as a result, we have two tracks of the same song, both of which were directed by Bappa Mazumder. The solo performance will be added to the second album of the 'Music for Celebrating Life'. The album is expected to be launched in February 2010.

The organizers are immensely grateful to the Honourable President Mr. Md. Zillur Rahman, who graced the occasion with his presence and handed over the crests to the awardees. Jim McCabe, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, Bangladesh, and Mahfuz Anam, Editor and Publisher of The Daily Star, gratefully received a crest from the Honourable President on the occasion. We are also very thankful to Bangabhaban Protocol Officers, SSF, Prime Minister's Office, DG, DGFI, SB, PGR and NSI for their cooperation and support in organizing the programme successfully.

At the heart of this competition are ideals of patriotism and the drive to uplift the nation's best filmmakers, photographers and lyricists. The competition was conceptualized keeping in mind a platform that jells the difference between urban Bangladesh and its rural communities. So, the Award Giving Ceremony and the consequent district-level Celebrating Life Festivals are really meant to reach out to all Bangladeshis. The overall collective participation of thousands of people is where the success of the competition lies. But when the head of the state, the President of the People's Republic of Bangladesh himself is on the stage, the organizers hands are tied with security protocols. These security protocols are there for good reason and they must be adhered to in order to ensure the President's safety. One such protocol is that no electronic devices such as mobile phone, camera and not even handbags can be brought into the premises. In order to inform our respected guest of this protocol, we had mentioned this fact in each and every invitation card. But over 70% of the guests had brought one thing or the other, which the security detail could not allow to enter the premises. These guests had to leave without attending the ceremony, resulting in our audience losing mass. The entire upper floor was left empty, but the show had to go on with most of the audience left outside or on their way back home. Many of these members of the audience were participants; and many had gone through tremendous hardship to find means to travel to-and-from Dhaka the week before Eid-ul-Azha. We simply don't have the words that truly convey how sorry we are that we could not find a way for them to enter and attend the award giving ceremony. We will try and find a way out of this particular problem in the future.

We thank the three contests' jury panels for collaborating with each other and with The Daily Star in choosing the winners of 2009 in a neutral manner. Unfortunately, Mr. Tareque Masud, the head of the jury panel of the film contest was unable to attend the event since he was abroad. We would like to express our condolences following the sad demise of Dr. Nawajesh Ahmed. In a tragic and heartrending event, he collapsed to the floor after suffering from a massive heart attack. He was rushed to the National Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases (NICVD) where attending doctors pronounced him dead. Dr. Ahmed (born 1935) was a renowned academician, genetic scientist, consultant and a photographer. He will be missed by us all.

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