The Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF), which continues to enjoy a rising profile on the international festival circuit with each passing year, commences its 18th edition on Saturday at different venues around the capital with participants from over 70 countries.
A press conference was held Thursday afternoon at Dhaka Club’s Samson H. Chowdhury Lounge, where the organizers officially announced the dates and details of the festival.
The press conference was conducted by festival executive committee member M Hamid, while festival director Ahmed Muztaba Zamal disclosed details regarding the venues and event schedule.
Festival committee Chairperson Kishwar Kamal, Head of the Programmers Zohreh Zamani, founder of Rainbow Film Society Mostafa Kamal and two of the festival committee members, Mofidul Hoque and Dr Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, also spoke at the press conference.
The inaugural ceremony of the festival will take place in the main auditorium of the National Museum at 4pm on January 11. Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen will attend the ceremony as chief guest, while State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, also the chief patron of DIFF, will preside over the ceremony.
The 18th DIFF festival will screen some 220 films, with participation from 74 countries, with competitive categories spanning “Asian Cinema” “Retrospective ,” “Bangladesh Panorama ,” “Cinema of the World,” “Children’s Films,” “Spiritual Films,” “Women Filmmakers ” and “Short and Independent Films” categories, the organisers revealed.
The jury board features some of the biggest names of arts and entertainment from both national and international level, including Polish filmmaker Joanna Kos-Krauze, prominent Bangladeshi filmmakers Mostafa Sarwar Farooki and Nargis Akhter, renowned singer Maqsoodul Haque, Australian docu-filmmaker and human rights activist Robyn Hughan and several other notable film personalities from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Italy, Spain, Kosovo, Canada, Russia and Iran.
The film screenings will be held at the Bangladesh National Museum’s main auditorium and Sufia Kamal auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy’s National Music and Dance auditorium and National Art Gallery, Central Public Library’s Shawkat Osman auditorium, Alliance Francaise de Dhaka auditorium and two of the renowned cinema halls in the capital- Madhumita cinema hall and Star Cineplex’s Bashundhara City and Shimanto Shambhar branches.
Organizers Rainbow Film Society will also be hosting a two-day ‘Sixth International Women Filmmakers Conference’ from Sunday (January 12) where women filmmakers, actors and personalities from all over the world will take part, along with BGMEA president Dr Rubana Huq at Dhaka Club’s Samson H. Chowdhury Lounge.
A day-long programme ‘WEST MEETS EAST’ will also be held on January 14 at the same venue.
Another very important segment that this year’s festival is arranging is the Children’s Film Section, where films related to children will be screened free of cost every day from 10 am to 3 pm. A special arrangement has been made for the underprivileged children to enjoy the films.
Students with valid identity cards will be allowed to watch films for free at the 10 am, 1 pm and 3 pm shows. Except for the cinema halls, attendance for regular audiences will also be free at most of the venues. Screenings at the main gallery of National Museum and Public Library’s Shawkat Osman auditorium however will cost Tk 50.
The aims of DIFF are to create a space for young and aspiring filmmakers in Bangladesh so they may connect with global artistes and learn international filmmaking standards, alongside opening up global markets for Bangladeshi. One film from the Bangladesh Panorama section will receive the prestigious International Film Critics Federation (FIPRESCI) critics’ award for Best Film.
The first DIFF was organized in 1992 by the Rainbow Film Society, whose members are film enthusiasts solely dedicated to the promotion of a healthy cinema culture in Bangladesh and celebrating the blending of contemporary films from all over the globe since 1977.
This year’s festival will conclude on January 19.