The 8th annual Liberation Docfest Bangladesh-2020, the first of its kind in South Asia, began on Tuesday virtually connecting global film producers and audiences demonstrating that coronavirus pandemic could not stop them from getting connected through minds and hearts.
The five-day festival, previously known as the International Festival of Docufilms on Liberation and Human Rights, has generated much interest among film lovers at home and abroad.
The Liberation War Museum, a peoples’ museum dedicated to highlighting the history of Bangladesh’s struggle for independence and its presentation to the new generation, is hosting the festival.
Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bangladeshi conglomerate Cosmos Group, has associated with this year’s festival as the technology partner while the media partner is United News of Bangladesh (UNB), South Asia’s first fully wired digital news agency.
Acclaimed Bangladeshi filmmaker and freedom fighter Syed Salahuddin Zaki inaugurated the festival.
A festival solely dedicated to documentary cinemas, seeking to highlight the struggle for Liberation and Human Rights of people in various parts of the world and its contemporary significance - the event has always been one of the most awaited and celebrated film festivals in Bangladesh.
The festival aims to uphold new forms of viewing the human suffering and struggle for justice in the global perspective.
This unique festival also focuses on breaking new ground and on the great diversity and vitality of storytelling and creativity of the documentary genre.
A total of 70 films will be screened during the festival that will continue until June 20.
About the initiative, Liberation War Museum's trustee Mofidul Hoque said the Liberation War Museum has constantly been motivating and patronizing filmmakers to make documentary films from its inception, so that the current and future generations can get the opportunity to taste and understand the essence of our glorious Liberation War in 1971.
"We started this spontaneous journey of documentary films from our previous museum space at Shegun Bagicha to the newly founded spacious museum space in Agargaon, and since then we have been celebrating this festival at a bigger and better arrangement," he said.
Expressing his heartfelt gratitude to organizing partner Cosmos Foundation and UNB, Mofiqul Hoque said this year marks the 8th edition of the Liberation DocFest Bangladesh, and was supposed to be held from April 2 to April 6, 2020.
However, due to outbreak of Covid-19 the countrywide lockdown was declared and the Liberation War Museum like many other institutions, was closed, so the Liberation DocFest Bangladesh festival had to be postponed.
"Thanks to Cosmos Foundation for coming forward with the required assistance to arrange this year’s festival online, so now the festival and all these wonderful documentary films from over 50 countries can be explored by everyone around the world - which gives us a much larger platform than our usual arrangements at the museum,” he said.
Cosmos Foundation Chairman Enayetullah Khan said they are delighted to get the opportunity to extend their cooperation for the festival. "We feel proud of that."
He said it is certainly a great matter of joy that Cosmos Foundation and United News of Bangladesh (UNB) got associated with this year’s DocFest.
"The prime focus of this year’s festival is birth centenary celebrations of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This festival is a part of the celebrations," Khan said.
Regarding the first-ever online documentary film festival in South Asia, he said approximately 1800 documentary films from 112 nations have been submitted for this year’s festival - and this is, indeed a great matter of pride for Bangladesh.
Khan said it will help build positive image for the country in the world.
"We are all affected due to COVID-19 pandemic. We are all confined to homes. But nobody could confine our hearts. We are marching ahead despite many barriers," he said.
"I believe the audience around the world would be able to happily connect themselves with all the wonderful films participating in this DocFest," Khan added.
The festival will feature sections namely ‘National Competitive Section: Documenting 1971’ and beyond, International Competitive Section, non-competitive section namely Cinema of the World and special packages.
The winners in the competitive sections will receive cash prizes, certificates and crests.
Cinema of the World section will feature films from across the globe.
Documentary films on the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and leaders from different third world countries will be screened under the section ‘Bangabandhu & other icons of national liberation in third world’ and the package named ‘Northeast is not far way: Documentaries of Northeast India’ will feature documentaries from Eastern India.
The Jury members for the International Competition Section for this year’s festival are Kim Young Woo (Programmer and Chair at the DMZ DOCS festival, South Korea); Nepalese filmmaker Subina Shestha and Samia Zaman, renowned Bangladeshi filmmaker, journalist and producer - while the jury for the National Competition are Bangladeshi filmmaker Aka Reza Galib, film critic Bidhan Riberu and academic, playwright, actor and theatre personality Samina Lutfa Nitra.