Bangladeshi theatre’s “voice of rebellion” Ishrat Nishat fell silent on January 20 last year.
This Wednesday marked the first death anniversary of the eminent theatre activist, actor, playwright, organiser, light designer and recitation artiste.
The 56-year-old was remembered with a special tribute “Ek Jiboner Theatre” by theatre troupe Desh Theatre. The programme showcased the life and works of Nishat at the National Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
Noted cultural personalities and theatre activists including Azad Abul Kalam, Mamunur Rashid, Masum Reza, Nasiruddin Yousuff shared their memories of the late activist and spoke about her contribution to Bangladeshi theatre.
“Ishrat Nishat was a dedicated theatre activist who wholeheartedly loved her job. She always guided, admired and protected her fellow theatre workers. Bangladeshi theatre movement is forever indebted to Ishrat,” legendary actor and Aranyak drama troupe founder Mamunur Rashid said.
“As a dedicated theatre professional, Ishrat earned respect from all theatre activists of Bangladesh due to her relentless efforts until her death.”
Her legacy will forever be remembered with the utmost respect, cultural activist and Dhaka DocLab chairman Nasiruddin Yousuff said.
Nasiruddin directed Nishat as an artiste in his film “Alpha,” the official submission of Bangladesh to the 92nd Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film in 2019.
Cultural personalities also remembered the late artiste-activist with heartwarming stories on social media.
Theatre magazine “Khepa” published a special edition featuring the late artiste, commemorating her eventful life as a journeyman in the theatre arena.
Ishrat was born to the late actress Najma Anwar on August 26 in 1964. She garnered critical acclaim for her performances in theatre, television and films.
Nishat’s theatrical journey began with the theatre troupe Aranyak Natyadal’s play “Guinea Pig” in the 80s.
Her excellence as an actress later continued with plays like “Birosa Kabya,” “Ghorlapat” and “Dorpone Shorotshoshi.” She also directed two plays – “Loha” and “Arakshita.”
As a renowned organising activist, Nishat served the drama troupe Desh Natok as one of its founding members and served as the troupe’s leader until her death.
She was also a member of Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation, Bangladesh Path Natok Parishad and Sammilita Sangskritik Jote.
Aside from being a theatre activist, Nishat was also a talented and creative light designer for staged plays and she was also a noted recitation artiste.
Websites have forced the average consumer to read far more than the pre-internet era could have possibly done. From grammatically broken comments on social media to research papers readily made available at just a tap of the screen, people have spent so much time reading that content structure has reduced significantly. Letter caps on Twitter posts and reduced word count in articles were altered to cater to the diminishing attention span of online readers. The digital age has just begun, but captivating novels are still releasing and users are still keen to slow down and absorb content traditionally. With the Kindle’s attempt to cleverly marry books and digital, it has become a direct competitor to the classic book, but how do they fare against each other and which one is better for you?
The Kindle’s Rise to Popularity
Amazon did not pioneer the concept of an e-reader (or e-book), but they certainly dominated the commercial market ever since they introduced the Kindle in 2007. The device was created solely for the purpose of reading e-novels which meant that its technology was specifically designed with the complete understanding that consumers would be looking at the Kindle’s screen for hours as anyone normally would with a regular book.
It’s no secret that overexposure to screens will damage the eyes if not moderated, however LED and LCD lights were avoided, and substituted with E-Ink. Despite what its name implies, E-Ink isn’t cutting-edge technology because of the way it emits texts on screen, but the entire “paper” interface altogether. Although pioneered in 1997, the Kindle has made sure that E-Ink can be used under extreme lighting conditions like harsh sunlight or even in dark places. By no means is this technology completely harmless for the eyes. Screen exposure regardless of the display system will emit blue light that can harm the eyes if overexposed, but Kindle goes out of its way to cause as little harm to readers as the latest technology available would allow.
The Kindle’s largest selling point by far is it's convenience. With a massive selection of E-books made available on the Amazon store, consumers can simply buy anything they want on the portal and the novel will immediately become available on their devices. On top of that, a mere 8GB Kindle can house up to 2,750 e-books while the 32GB model can contain a whopping number of 22,000 E-books. The sheer storage capacity in this small device has made it the perfect travel companion. Flights with hand luggage weight restrictions or long train rides are where the device has proven to be a potential successor to physical books.
Can Physical Books Keep Up?
Generations of consumers who lived in the physical book era find that no technology can replace the experience of reading an actual book. From the scent of new pages to the texture of paper, physical books have been reliable for hundreds of years, but arguably have been relegated to a luxury these days. Attention spans have been depleting as consumers become more online dependent and allocating time to read for hours isn’t as easy of an option as it once was. One of the biggest upsides to books is how affordable they are compared to a kindle. For about $20, readers can pick up a book that could last weeks or even months if there are time constraints. Worrying about battery failure when unused or accidentally dropping it are not concerns for physical books at all. On the other extreme end of the spectrum, avid readers would enjoy the experience of flipping pages, bookmarking and getting lost in the text in a scenic area.
For those who don't read often: If you’re under massive time constraints due to work or family life, a physical book could be the better choice. The price of a Kindle is certainly going to be too indulgent for how much it is being used for. A regular book is well worth your time if an hour is the maximum you could squeeze in a day.
For the frequent traveller: The Kindle is perfect for those who travel abundantly. Whether for work or leisure, the compact device saves you tons of weight that you’d have to lug around for hours on end. All it takes is a 2-minute purchase at the e-book store on Amazon for you to have new content to read wherever you are.
For the avid reader. This is all about preference. If you have dedicated time on your hands to sit by a lake, cafe or park to read for a few hours, both work effectively. If you need to detach from technology, a hardcopy is the way to go. If you want to juggle a few reading materials comfortably, go for the Kindle.
The ongoing 19th edition of Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) is being held for the first time in a hybrid format combining due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, and LagVelki.com, country’s first online pay-per-view movie streaming platform, is streaming the movies online as the official virtual platform of this festival.
Describing the journey behind the partnership, LagVelki’s founder Shariful Islam Shaon told UNB that this is a great opportunity for a Bangladeshi streaming startup, led and operated by the film-loving youths of the nation.
“DIFF is one of the biggest film festivals in the world and the biggest in our country since its beginning. For the first time ever, this festival is using a streaming platform as the 19th edition is being observed in a hybrid format, and we are proud to be its official broadcasting partner,” Shaon told UNB.
Sharing the story on how LagVelki got connected with DIFF, Shaon shared: “Noted filmmaker Abu Shehed Emon got us connected with DIFF, after the Liberation DocFest back in July 2020. Although DIFF director Ahmed Muztaba Zamal knew of our start-up, we officially began to discuss a possible partnership back in October. We presented our plan, and made official agreement in late December that LagVelki is going to stream 126 foreign films at the 19th Dhaka International Film Festival as its first-ever official virtual partner.”
“The entire working process was hectic, but we took it as a learning experience. Compressing 126 films and uploading on our website, making promo materials for each film and ensuring constant customer support for the virtual moviegoers was challenging, yet we successfully completed our tasks,” Shaon added.
When asked about the limitations, he mentioned that LagVelki only received permission to project foreign films at this year’s DIFF, however, the platform is expecting to project both local and international films in future editions of DIFF.
“OTT (Over-the-top) platforms are the future and already Bangladeshi films are being showcased at many OTT sites. As a local startup which initiated to support local films and filmmakers, we expect to have more professional engagements from our film professionals so that we can reach to more local audiences with our local films”.
Speaking of local audiences, Shaon also informed that the movies can only be watched from Bangladesh, as there are regional blockages for other countries. Local audiences can enjoy a full-length feature film at tk 50 and Short film at tk 20 for 6 hours after purchase. Payment can be made through any means of digital payment method available in Bangladesh including BKash, Nagad, Rocket and more.
“As a part of the new-hybrid-normalcy, we are receiving overwhelmingly good responses from our audiences - especially from the educated film enthusiasts, researchers, teachers and scholars who are being able to watch these films from anywhere in the country which was needed during this pandemic. This accessibility was not available to our audiences before.”
DIFF always had its special preferences for children through its various initiatives, and Shaon informed that LagVelki also followed the same - as its showcasing multiple films for children as the target audiences every day. “Many guardians were concerned on bringing their children in this festival which has always celebrated the presence of a significant number of child audiences every year - and keeping that in mind, we designed the festival with multiple international films to enthrall our child audiences,” Shaon told UNB.
Lagvelki has a total of five members in the core team led by Shariful Shaon, and 16 members in the digital team mostly from film & computer Science background. These young film lovers are working to reach this platform all over Bangladesh, cutting the middle-men during film distribution and channeling the money directly to the producers and filmmakers.
Shaon mentioned that LagVelki has received blessings and spiritual guidance from leading film scholars and cultural activists in Bangladesh, including Mofidul Hoque, Nasir Uddin Yousuf, Tareq Ahmed, Samia Zaman, Abu Shahed Emon and more.
As one of the rising startups, LagVelki became one of the top 3 winners as part of the #StartKoro bootcamp in July 2020, which was designed in a way that the participants have gone through a full cycle of learning, ideating, developing and launching a digital product or a startup. The winners received a total of $1500 USD ads credits from Facebook Developer Circle Dhaka, Preneur Lab Trust, UNDP Youth Co:Lab, UNCDF, Startup Bangladesh, FNF Bangladesh and bdapps by Robi Axiata Limited in the month-long boot camp was attended by 874 registered participants.
Being the first pay-per-movie site in Bangladesh, LagVelki is committed to bring cult classics to award-winning masterpieces and flourish the true form of visual arts without compromising the artist's views, thoughts & philosophical aspects, according to Shaon and his team.
The 7th edition of Dhaka International Conference on Women in Cinema at the 19th Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) concluded on Monday at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA).
The two-day conference began Sunday with its special focus on improving the standard and content of women-based cinema and creating an interaction among women involved in the medium of cinema through exchanging ideas and sharing diverse experiences.
Six keynote papers were presented and discussed at the conference by renowned women filmmakers, critics, and panel members from home and abroad.
The conference featured the presentation of three keynote papers on Monday including “Women in VR: Is Another Train Leaving Without Us” by film critic and Show Time editor of Dhaka Tribune Sadia Khalid, “Role of Film Festivals and Social Media to Empower and Encourage Women in Cinema And Nepalese Women Film Maker’s Stand in the Present Scenario in seven decades History” by Nepalese filmmaker, actor and festival director of Yala International Independent Film Festival (YIIFF) in Nepal Nisha Shrestha and “Beyond Bangla Borders: Made in Bangladesh: A Case Study” by Sydney Levine, conference director and trainer, educator, writer and consultant for festival, international sales and financing strategies from LA, USA.
The sessions were respectively presided over by Associate Professor at Dhaka University’s Department of Mass Communication and Journalism Sabrina Sultana Chowdhury, film critic Sadia Khalid and Liberation War Museum trustee Mofidul Haque.
Noted discussants included Canadian film consultant-programmer Hannah Fisher, Bangladeshi independent filmmaker N Rashed Chowdhury, Indian actress and filmmaker Bijaya Jena, the connoisseur of ‘fan of all things’ creative, cultural and innovative from Bangladesh Naeema Chaudhury, Bangladeshi independent filmmaker Shamim Akhter, Norwegian producer and head of the New Nordic Films of the Norwegian International Film Festival Gyda Velvin Myklebust, Bangladeshi filmmaker and film society activist Aka Reza Ghalib and French filmmaker-producer Meral Melika Duran.
On Sunday, the other three papers including “A Few Good Films: Alternative Representation of Women in Films in the 70s in Bangladesh” was presented by Bangladeshi filmmaker and independent film activist Mehzad Ghalib; “We will Tell the Truth through Cinema - Women of the Iranian Cinema” was presented by Iranian film festival programmer, distributor and film producer Elaheh Nobakht and “Depicting Son Preference in Indian Cinema: A Feminist Contemplation” was presented by Debjani Halder, film research officer of the Film and Television Institute of India (Pune).
The sessions on Sunday were respectively presided over by DIFF chairperson Professor Kishwar Kamal, Bangladeshi independent filmmaker Shamim Akhter and Dr Kaberi Gayen, Professor at Dhaka University's Mass Communication and Journalism department.
Noted discussants included South Korean film festival programmer, playwright, journalist, producer, and human rights activist Su Lee, noted Bangladeshi filmmaker, screenwriter and producer Nargis Akhter, media personality and Jagannath University’s Film and Television department faculty Fatima Amin, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh Farah Kabir, Bangladeshi independent filmmaker, editor, and instructor Chaitali Somadder, Bangladeshi actress Bonna Mirza, Indian film society activist, film programmer and journalist Uma da Cunha, manager of Tehran’s Hilaj Film and Acting School in Iran Shadi Javadi and Bangladeshi filmmaker and film society activist Aka Reza Ghalib.
The declaration of the conference will be continued and read out at the closing ceremony of the 19th DIFF on January 24, Liberation War Museum trustee Hoque told UNB.
Earlier, the conference was officially inaugurated by State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid on Sunday as the chief guest while BSA Director General Liaquat Ali Lucky joined as the special guest at the inaugural ceremony, presided over by DIFF chairperson Kishwar Kamal.
French filmmaker-producer Meral Melika Duran and Canadian film consultant-programmer Hannah Fisher joined the inaugural ceremony virtually, which was anchored by festival director Ahmed Muztaba Zamal.
Following the inaugural ceremony, which showcased an enthralling dance-drama performance by BSA artists titled Banglar Nari, portraying noted women personalities who broke the shackles of the society and accelerated women empowerment including Pritilata Waddedar, Nawab Faizunnesa, Begum Rokeya Shakhawat Hossain, Jahanara Imam, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina - the conference officially began featuring discussions on the topics.
The much-awaited 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) got off on Saturday with enthralling cultural performances amidst a dazzling ceremony celebrating the joy of cinema.
Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium at Panaji in Goa reverberated with the passion of film-stars, film-makers and film-lovers from around the world.
The opening ceremony of Asia’s oldest and India’s biggest film festival has been hosted by actor, author and film-producer Tisca Chopra and became further illuminated by the dazzling presence of eminent film-maker Priyadarshan Nair and noted actor Sudeep who has been the chief guest, among other celebrated film personalities.
The function also saw the graceful presence of Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar and Chief Minister of Goa Pramod Sawant, among other dignitaries, according to Press Information Bureau of India.
Speaking on the occasion, Sudeep, also known as Kichha Sudeep said, “Let Cinema be the new pandemic”.
He said, “Cinema is one fraternity that, from one seat, takes you all around the world, gets you the knowledge, gets you closer to the culture of every fraternity across the world”.
Addressing the audience, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar said that 600 International entries and 190 Indian entries have been received this year, reflecting the huge importance the world attaches to it.
Javadekar announced, on the occasion of 100th birth anniversary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the two countries are together making a film titled Bangabandhu.
Veteran actor and Director Biswajit Chatterjee has been conferred Indian Personality of the Year Award, he further announced.
Jadavekar said, unlike other countries, India has multiple favourable destinations for shooting. "Hence, we need to promote ‘Shoot in India," stated the Minister.
In the context of Film Bazaar, the Union Minister said, film is not only a source of entertainment, but also a big market.
“Human being is an imaginative being; films which appeal to the imagination make us laugh, cry and make us one, united in the story. If the story is told well, the film will become popular.”
The Minister said that we will make a beginning to private participation in film festival, from 52nd IFFI. He said that the 51st edition of IFFI will run on seven screens, and lakhs of mobiles and TVs and will reach the whole world.
The Chief Minister of Goa Shri Pramod Sawant invited Indian and global film makers to look at Goa as a preferred destination for film making.
"The annual IFFI gives an opportunity to members of film fraternity from across the world to explore the jewel from the west coast of India", he said.
High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India Mohammad Imran was also present on the occasion.
Bangladesh is the focus country of the festival this year.
Apart from the recognition of the creativity and ingenuity of the film-makers of Bangladesh, it is also a testimony of the depth of relations and a historic bind between the two neighbouring countries, said the High Commissioner.
“We thank the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, for organizing this festival in this challenging time. It shows the commitment and courage you have to face and overcome the challenging situation as well as your passion and love for arts and culture”, he said.
The delegates will be treated to ten of the best films from the focus country Bangladesh, showcasing the country’s cinematic excellence and contributions to the world of cinema.
The Lifetime Achievement in the 51st IFFI has been given to Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro.
In a video message, Storaro thanked IFFI for recognizing his journey.
The legendary cinematographer said that he owes the incredible visual journey he had, to his colleagues and great directors like Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Coppola, Carlos Oliveira and Woody Allen.
“They led me in a special way, like in an orchestra, to use my language of light”, he said. In a word of advice to young cinematographers, he said, “Study, research, prepare yourself. Love what you do, only if you love and believe in something, you can make it”.
“India is a wonderful universe which allows us to continue dreaming day by day, since everything is possible in India”, said Chairman of International Jury, Argentine Film Director Pablo Cesar, in a video message.
The 14th Edition of NFDC Film Bazaar was also virtually launched by Union Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar on the occasion.
This NFDC Film Bazaar will be held in a hybrid format which will be both offline and online.
The Film Bazaar will be held virtually but it will include all sections usually held in previous editions.
Film Bazaar is the largest South Asian film market.
It encourages creative and financial collaboration between the South Asian and International film communities.
A trailor of the festival’s opening film ‘Another Round’ by Danish film-maker Thomas Vinterberg was played in the opening ceremony.
“As a starting point, this was a pure celebration of alcohol, but it grew into a celebration of life”, said the Director in a video message.
The movie is Denmark’s official entry to the Oscars and stars Cannes Best Actor Award winner Mads Mikkelsen.
In the 51st IFFI, 126 films from 60 countries will be showcased in International sections.
Some 85 films out of these will be premiere screenings, including 7 World Premieres, 6 International Premieres, 22 Asian Premieres and 50 Indian Premieres.
Masterclasses and In-conversation sessions, which have been the highlight of IFFI over the years, will also be held virtually.
Renowned film personalities like Shekhar Kapur, Priyadarshan, Pablo Cesar (from Argentina) and Prasanna Vithanage (from Sri Lanka) will be sharing their valuable experience for these sessions.
A retrospective section will showcase legendary film-maker Satyajit Ray’s popular classics like Pather Panchali, Shatranj Ke Khilari, Charulata, Ghare Baire and Sonar Kella.
On the occasion of the 150th Birth Anniversary of the father of Indian Cinema, four films by Dadasaheb Phalke will be screened.
IFFI will also pay Homage to 18 film personalities who passed away in the previous year.
This includes much loved personalities like Irrfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor, S.P Balasubrahmanyam, Soumitra Chatterjee, Sushant Singh Rajput and Basu Chatterjee.
World premiere of ‘Mehrunisa’ by Sandeep Kumar will take place mid-fest in IFFI. Japanese movie ‘Wife of a Spy’ directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa will bring the curtains down on this edition of the festival.
Whereas film connoisseurs can enjoy films by prominent filmmakers such as Pedro Almodóvar Caballero, Ruben Ostlund and Kim Ki-duk, delegates will also have the opportunity to enjoy seven great new films nominated for the Best Debut Feature Film of a Director.
Apart from this, ten films will be shown as part of the ICFT- UNESCO Gandhi Medal competition, selected for reflecting Mahatma Gandhi's ideals of peace, tolerance and non-violence.
Due to the current Covid scenario, many Bollywood celebrities could not be remain physically present in the function. Their video messages brought a feel of their virtual presence in the ceremony.
“ I congratulate all the participants of the 51st IFFI’ - Anupam Kher
“What an amazing way to kick-start 2021 by celebrating some of the finest cinematic works from across the globe” – Ayushmann Khurrana
“IFFI is something we all film-enthusiasts look forward to. One of the most prestigious festivals in the world” – Anil Kapoor
"What better way to kick-start 2021 than by celebrating some of the finest cinematic works from across the globe” – Madhuri Dixit
“Congratulations IFFI on bringing in your 51st edition” – Ranveer Singh
“Go and watch some great films” – Siddhant Chaturvedi
“…..I am so glad that despite the pandemic and the trials the year has put us through, IFFI has been held with all safety precautions put in place” – Vidya Balan
“It has become abundantly clear that the internet is changing the way in which people experience watching movies. I am sure the Goa film festival will explore reinvent or reframe the film festival experience itself. I see such online festivals becoming popular as being a way of building up a community. This, perhaps, will be the new norm of interacting with film festivals, especially with the film-makers, actors and technicians from around the globe. ” – Mohan Lal
Festival Director Shri Chaitanya Prasad said: “The 51st edition has written a new narrative where other film festivals in the world will get a new template of excellence. Referring to Resurgent India, Inspirational India and the idea of New India, we have positioned this festival through the medium of films. This festival has taught us how to weave content with technology; we are extremely happy that we have come up with a hybrid festival, the next few days are going to set the standards for other film festivals.”
In her welcome address, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Neerja Shekhar said they remain committed to further promote the film sector in the country and look forward towards actively promoting the AVGC sector as well.
Chief Secretary of Goa Shri Shri Puneet Kumar; MD-Entertainment Society of Goa, Shri Amit Satija; Secretary General of Film Federation of India and IFFI Screening Committee Member, Shri Ravi Kottarakara; IFFI Festival Director, Shri Chaitanya Prasad were also present amongst the senior functionaries of the Government of India.
The cultural performances in the opening ceremony specially focussed on the local folk culture and music of Goa - a place that has been home to IFFI since 2004.