Albert Einstein once said, “Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think.” The late Bangladeshi filmmaker Alamgir Kabir, a pioneer in his field who passed away on this day (January 20) in 1989, took Einstein’s advice, trained his mind as a filmmaker and through his creations, projected the light of his beliefs and ethics onto his viewers.
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Kabir, with Einstein as his pole star, was studying electrical engineering at Oxford University in the Sixties when he saw the legendary Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman’s magnum opus, ‘The Seventh Seal’. He was moved by the film to forget Einstein and drop out of Oxford, enrolling for courses in film direction and aesthetics at the British Film Institute instead.
He later moved into journalism as a film critic, and taught film studies, sharing his notion of filmmaking with coming generations. The late Tareque Masud and Tanvir Mokammel, two of the country’s most celebrated and accomplished filmmakers, were both his students.
He believed it was not mandatory for a director to go to his audience -instead it should be a two- way communication between the audience and director.
Alamgir Kabir always knew the challenges and repercussions of screening films out of audiences’ comfort zone. Still, he inspired young, independent filmmakers to break the leash and educate themselves to try out something new, and become adroit filmmakers, technicians, critics, and film- journalists.
Alamgir Kabir was the ‘sine qua non’ of Bangladeshi films. He believed films could change the socio-political scenario in society. He turned his films into ‘text’ that can galvanize the idea of films themselves and inspire the audience- critics- filmmakers to start a new epoch of culture.
Though he didn’t start smooth.
His first film was neither successful nor felicitated by elites of the society. He penanced on this, always expressed his distress over this. “It troubles me to see the so-called higher classes’ attitude towards films. Bangla film still echoes the era of undivided Bengal Presidency. Until we make surreal films adapting Sarat Chandra flourishing romanticism, these ‘so-called enlightened’ audiences remain dispirited watching the film,’ Alamgir Kabir wrote in on one of his books.
Bangla film presents the time of Pramathesh Barua- exalted dramatic dialogues but Alamgir Kabir incepted the era of ‘Cinema Direct’ filming his first movie ‘Dhire Bohe Meghna’, a political film that touched deeper notions like sectarianism. It may be mentioned that Kabir was a deeply political figure, who joined the Communist Party of England during his stay there. Upon his return he was jailed by the Ayub Khan government for his leftist ties, and participated in the Liberation War as chief of the English section of Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro.
In his first film, Kabir screened the time after the Liberation War, and narrated people’s pain, anguish, terror, and glory from the point of view of the fiancé of an Indian Soldier killed in the war.
Telling the story his camera often wanders off in the streets, rivers, sky, alleys, composing our thoughts, reflecting love toward Bangladesh which lasted in sanctifying for Bangladesh.
With Surjo Konna (Daughter of The Sun), the maestro of Bangla cinema- Alamgir Kabir in 1976 philosophized that people understand much more through their imagination, thoughts, and feelings than what they see with their eyes, once the barrier between consciousness and subconsciousness breaks apart.
A young man’s subconscious portrays the time and society where women could not break out of their ‘historically captive’ state and the characters soon assimilated a negative image due to psychological ambivalence created by society’s imposed beliefs. The film reflected the freedom of females through male dominance. And with the flux of time, he proved that pure cinema transcends the limitation of storyline and narration to visualize our journey of life, awakening our primitive but pure feeling that does not depend on time and space.
He didn’t characterize berserk heroes trying to save the day, instead, the protagonist was living an alternative reality where some eerie- enchanted woman comes to his life leaving a mark of slope between dream and reality through the replete storyline and efficient composition.
Simana Periye (Across the Fringe) was different from his contemporaries, a commercially viable and quality film after the first two. The film mostly shows us the story of two protagonists washed off on a sparse island but the limited dialogue and presence of other characters not once distracted the audience from enjoying the film, who rather complimented the director for the novelty of composition and screenplay. He also portrayed ‘class- differences’ through the protagonists- a modern bourgeoises girl and peasant.
This might seem cliché or fiction but proves the point of Freudian theory that ‘people with lower social standing fantasize about mingling with people from the elite class. He knowingly turned his communist activist days to celluloid. Kabir simply experimented and successfully evidenced that films can be successful with a rich storyline and making.
He believed such mainstream films should be filmed but another type of film should blossom as well and so he took a bold step altering the era of adapting romanticized books with his way of storytelling. He experimented using negative films in a film role- he was the first director who tried new tricks.
1979’s Rupali Saikate (The Loner) was a positive psychology film, broke the linear progression film structure. Alamgir Kabir finally blossomed out as an ‘auteur’ making a film in ‘Cinéma vérité’. This film was a reflection of his own belief in politics, society, and human rights. He grew up believing in Marx and Sartre’s existentialism and youths in the early Sixties were conscious about the political and cultural changes. This film shows us a story of a young aesthetically vibrant man believing in equality and equity.
He worked on characterization in films and the presentation of the story. From Dhire Bohe Meghna’s socialist leader to Shimana Periye’s Ratan Master, Kabir worked making these character archetypes. And the presentation had a flux of modernity where falling in love with someone of different religion and fear of society at the same time raises a question of dogmatism and skepticism at the same time. Reminds us of the history of inter- sectarianism in our society.
Alamgir Kabir himself stated his career like this: “Naturally Cinema Direct captivated me as I started as a socio-political conscious journalist in my early youth and later, I embraced myself as a student of film studies. So, I felt this area of filmmaking was very crucial and constituent if I take Bangladesh’s context into account. I experimented with Cinema Direct in my first film Dhire Bohe Meghna (1973) in the structure of full- length feature film. Needless to say, the run was tough. Therefore, our industry was still largely under influence of the pre-independence Calcutta studio-infused Bioscope conventions. In that precinct, experimenting with film especially Cinema Direct was equivalent to knowingly taking your own life in Avant- grade manner. And so, my film was enigmatic to both audience and critics as they were used to the Bioscope- Novel genre of films and were nescient about the evolution of films as well.
He outreached films in his distinctive way, understood the necessity of creating newbies. And so, he started ‘The Dacca Film Institute’ in 1969 endeavoring on his own. On 8th January of 1970 class on films officially started in his residency. He taught his students cinematography, composition, aesthetics, outdoor cinematography and lectured on ‘directors cinema’. This was only the official way of his revolution. This resulted in Bangladeshi Alternative Cinema Movement. His wheel of inspiration and positivity to films made him ‘Cholochitracharya’ to his students, compatriot filmmakers, colleagues, and friends.
Renowned filmmakers Tareq Masud (Director of Matir Moyna, Runaway, Adam Surat’, Tanvir Mokammel (Director of Chitra Nodir Pare, Lalon, Nodir Naam Modhumoti), Morshedul Islam(director of Dipu no 2, Dukhai, Anil Bagchi Ekdin), Akhtaruzzaman (Director of Poka Makorer Ghor Bosoti, Princess Tina Khan, Ferari Basanta) were all students of the ‘Film Appreciation’ course he taught. A new generation of filmmakers believes he is the ‘doyen of quality film movement’ in our country.
Kabir was born in Rangamati in 1938 and spent his early years decamping from one place to another with his family. He was schooled in Dhaka Collegiate Scholl and finished intermediate from Dhaka College. He completed his bachelor's from the University of Dhaka in Physics and started studying Electrical Engendering abroad at the age of 22. In university, Kabir became interested in Politics especially the left movement. He gained his revolutionary thought and belief, nurtured his nature as a filmmaker and philosopher. Not only that, he developed a critique in himself, this prudence made him not only an excellent teacher but also a prolific writer.
He started accumulating his knowledge and belief working for The Daily Worker known as a newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain, his course of life changed inspired him to be the man we knew. In his time as a reporter, Kabir went for guerrilla welfare training in Cuba. As a reporter of a communist daily, he took an interview with Cuban President Fidel Castro. He also participated in the liberation war of Palestine and Algeria. He founded East Pakistan House and East Bengal Liberation Front in London and participated in the racial discrimination movement.
In 1966, he was imprisoned by the Ayub Government just after returning to Dhaka because of his affiliation in the leftist movement. He witnessed the liberation war and was a Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra veteran. These significant events instrumentalized and shaped his way of a career as a filmmaker- more importantly as a pioneer.
Unlike many others, he never blamed the fact of colonialism and imperialism rather he believed in embracing nationalism and emphasized pursuing the region's identity. He urged to dig for our unique language of art saying, “It is too late to blame our colonial past or cultural subjugation by the majority community of this sub-continent. Because we know now that given the right conditions and dedication from adherents of the art, even the most exploited nation could achieve true cinema with marked national character.”
Pre- and post-Liberation War and other events may trigger him to be a filmmaker. He believed in documentaries and started his career with ‘Liberation Fighter’. He directed seven feature films and nine short films in his career but contributed more to educating his successors to this alternative form of self-expression. The film was a way of speaking revolution, freedom and social justice, reforming society.
His books “Cinema in Pakistan” (1969) and “Film in Bangladesh” (1979) defines cinema as a social revolution for development, represents omnibus of in his social studies of film that he developed from the mid-60s onward.
Alamgir Kabir always embraced films as a social and political discourse and was more than happy helping new directors in every way he could, believing in the revolutionary power of films.
This pathbreaking artist, critic and activist was lost to the world on January 20th, 1989 in a tragic drowning incident.
He was only 50 years old.
In its second weekend in U.S. theaters, “Wonder Woman 1984” earned an estimated $5.5 million in ticket sales according to studio estimates Sunday. It’s a 67% drop for the superhero sequel, which is simultaneously playing on 2,151 screens and streaming free for HBO Max subscribers.
“Wonder Woman 1984” has made $28.5 million to date from the U.S., where about 39% of theaters are open and most major markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco, are closed. Internationally, it added $10.1 million, bringing its global total to $118.5 million, reports AP.
While $5.5 million would be a terrible second weekend for a $200 million movie in a pre-pandemic world, under the unique circumstances it was enough to top the domestic charts. In second place is Universal’s “The Croods: A New Age,” which saw a 25% increase in ticket sales in its sixth week in theaters. It’s made $34.5 million since it opened at Thanksgiving and is also now available to rent on premium video on demand.
Disney and Pixar’s “Soul,” which skipped U.S. theaters and is available for free for Disney+ subscribers, added $16.5 million internationally — a 114% increase from its opening in the same markets last weekend. The film featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey has done particularly well in China, where it more than doubled its opening sum and added $13.7 million this weekend. The studio attributed the gains to strong social media reactions and word of mouth.
Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic “Alien” also opened this weekend through Disney’s 20th Century Studios. It made $75,000 from 505 locations.
Dawn Wells, who played the wholesome Mary Ann among a misfit band of shipwrecked castaways on the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” died Wednesday of causes related to COVID-19, her publicist said. She was 82.
Wells died peacefully at a residential facility in Los Angeles, publicist Harlan Boll said. “There is so much more to Dawn Wells” than the “Gilligan’s Island” character that brought her fame, Boll said in a statement, reports AP.
Besides TV, film and stage acting credits, her other real-life roles included teacher, motivational speaker and conservationist, Boll said.
Tina Louise, 86, who played Ginger the movie star, is the last surviving member of a cast that included Bob Denver as the title character; Alan Hale Jr. as the Skipper; Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer as wealthy passengers Thurston and Lovey Howell, and Russell Johnson, known as the Professor.
“I will always remember her kindness to me,” Louise said in a statement. “We shared in creating a cultural landmark that has continued to bring comfort and smiles to people during this difficult time. I hope that people will remember her the way that I do — always with a smile on her face.”
“Oh, this so sad. Bon voyage, Mary Ann,” Jane Lynch posted on Twitter.
“Two and a Half Men” star Jon Cryer tweeted that it was a “thrill” to meet Wells when she visited the show, adding, “She could not have been more lovely and gracious.”
Wells, a native of Reno, Nevada, represented her state in the 1959 Miss America pageant and quickly pivoted to an acting career. Her early TV roles were on shows including “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick” and “Bonanza.”
Then came “Gilligan’s Island,” a goofy, good-natured comedy that aired from 1964-67 that became an unlikely but indelible part of popular culture. Wells’ comely but innocent Mary Ann complemented Louise’s worldly Ginger, and both became innocuous ’60s TV versions of sex symbols.
Wells’ wardrobe included a gingham dress and shorts that modestly covered her belly button, with both costumes on display in Los Angeles at The Hollywood Museum.
TV movies spinoffs from the series followed, including 1978′s “Rescue from Gilligan’s Island,” but Wells also moved on to other TV guest roles and films including the 2002 vacuum cleaner salesman comedy “Super Sucker” with Jeff Daniels. She starred on stage in dozens of plays, including “Chapter Two” and “The Odd Couple.”
In 2013, she was honored by for her work with a Tennessee-based refuge, The Elephant Sanctuary.
To mark the 50th anniversary of “Gilligan’s Island.” Dawn wrote “A Guide To Life: What Would Mary Ann Do?” with observations about her character and the cultural changes that took place while she was stranded.
Two years ago, a friend launched a GoFundMe drive to help cover medical and other costs for Wells, although she protested she didn’t need the assistance. She did end up acknowledging her need and accepted more than $180,000 in donations.
“Wow! I am amazed at the kindness and affection I have received” in response to the fundraising drive, Wells said in a social media post at the time. She said a “dear friend” undertook it after a frank conversation.
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She recounted musing to him, “’Where did the time go? I don’t know how this happened. I thought I was taking all the proper steps to ensure my golden years. Now, here I am, no family, no husband, no kids and no money.’”
Wells added in the post that she was grateful to her supportive fans and that her outlook remained positive.
Dawn is survived by her stepsister, Weslee Wells, Boll said.
In a dramatic U-turn that has shocked millions of his fans, south Indian superstar Rajinikanth on Tuesday decided not to join active politics.
Attributing the decision to poor health, the superstar said that he wanted to serve the people without entering electoral politics. "With extreme sadness I say that I can't enter politics. I alone know the pain I went through while announcing this decision," he said in a statement.
The decision comes barely four days before Rajinikanth was slated to launch a political party to contest in the upcoming assembly elections in his home state of Tamil Nadu.
"This decision of mine will disappoint my fans and people but please forgive me. My hospitalisation was a warning given by God. My campaign will impact health amid the pandemic," said the actor, who had to be briefly hospitalised for blood pressure fluctuations.
Earlier this month, Rajinikanth had announced that he would launch a political party in January next year. “We will achieve a big victory with the support of the people. Spiritual politics will emerge in Tamil Nadu that will bring transparency, honesty," he tweeted.
Later, Rajinikanth told the media, "I am ready to sacrifice even my life for the sake of Tamil people... It is now or never. If I win it will be the people's victory, if I lose it will be their defeat." The superstar had first indicated his intentions to join politics in 2017.
This would be the first election since the death of Tamil Nadu's two most powerful politicians, J Jayalalithaa of the ruling AIADMK and opposition DMK's MK Karunanidhi, created a political vacuum in the politically important state.
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Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, Rajinikanth made his debut in 1975 Tamil drama Apoorva Raagangal. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors in the history of Indian cinema, whose popularity has been attributed to his uniquely styled dialogues in films.
He has won many awards, including four Tamil Nadu State Film Best Actor Awards and a Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award. The Indian government honored the philanthropist with two civilian awards -- the Padma Bhushan in 2000 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2016.
The award of three-day Cinemaking International Film festival has been announced.
'The Single Tumbler' from Sri Lanka was awarded the Best International Film while 'A biography of Nazrul' directed by Ferdous Khan bagged 'Best Bangladeshi Full-length film' award.
The festival started on December 24 in the outskarts of the capital ciry Dhaka and ended on December 26.
CIFF founder and Festival Director Monjurul Islam Megh informed that 150 films from 54 countries and 27 films from Bangladesh has been selected for competition in 11 categories in this time. Among them, 17 international films were awarded as best award from eight competition categories.
Ten international best awards were given in the main competition section for International Feature film Competition.
“Girl and the Sea” directed by Azizzhan Zairov and Mukhamed Mamyrbekov from Kazakhstan were announced as Best Asian film while Apurba Kishor Bir won Best Asian director for “Antardhwani” from India.
“I’Father', directed by Mark Norfolk from Kosovo was selected as Best European Film while Gultekin Bayir bagged Best European Director for “Bir Denizcinin Dogum Gunu” from Turkey.
Yashpal Sharma for acting in the “Mooso the Mouse” and Swapna Pati for acting in the “Antardhwani” from India were awarded as Best International Actor and Best International Actress respectively.
“The Final Code” from Italy will receive the Best Original Score while Best Cinematography for “Boluomi” from Taiwan and Best Screenplay for “Colorless Dreams” from Uzbekistan were announced in the competition.
“Endless Walk” directed by Yan Paing Htum from Myanmar bagged the title of Best international mobile film while Best Bangladeshi mobile was film “Mother” directed by Anondo Khaled.
“The Fiber” directed Nubelia Leyva Ferrer and Sorangel Solano Clever from Cuba gained the title of Best International Short film while the festival announced Best Bangladeshi short film “Separation” directed by Aparajita Sangita.
Best International Documentary were “A Gift from God” directed by Jorgen Lorentzen, Nafise Ozkal Lorentzen from Norway while Best International Kids award were achieved by Filmmaker Sandro Kintsureshvili for “Take It” from Georgia.
The festitival was organised by Dhaka Festival while Festival Partner was Mashud moncho and Rushda Film.