After suffering the wrath of the ongoing global pandemic of COVID-19 for the majority of the past two years, the film industry in Bangladesh finally made its long-awaited glorious comeback this year with a handful of quality films and queues for tickets outside the cinema halls.
The “almost dying industry,” according to many tired and retired moviegoers and industry-experts, observed the return of the cinephiles at the multiplexes and cinema halls across the country, celebrating a few major releases - which set the year on a restarting mode, seeking an even better future.
According to the data collected from the producers, distributors and cinema hall authorities across the country, there are less than 60 active cinema halls currently showcasing films in Bangladesh. The number is astonishingly poor, considering the fact that Bangladesh had approximately 250 active cinema halls before the pandemic, and more than a thousand running halls back in the 90’s.
It is an undeniable fact that the cinema industry around the world suffered the havoc of the pandemic; however, the situation in Bangladesh had been worsening for such a long time even before the pandemic. The industry drastically drowned during the pandemic lockdown without the presence of in-house audiences, the bloodstream in the vessels of the entertainment industry through the cinema halls.
That being said, there was a lack of quality content over the years which did not thrive the moviegoers to the theatres, and thankfully that situation got slightly improved this year with the arrival of a good number of quality movies.
Undoubtedly, the trailblazing film for this year has been the much talked about and several accolades conquering film ‘Rehana Maryam Noor’. The second directorial venture of talented filmmaker Abdullah Mohammad Saad earned the glory of becoming the first Bangladeshi film showcased in the prestigious Un Certain Regard category at the 74th Cannes International Film Festival this year.
After being screened at the Sal Dubusi Theater in the Cane Pale Do Festival building on July 7, the film finally hit the silver screens across the country on November 12, and till now the Azmeri Haque Badhon starrer film is enthralling the local and international cinephiles and bagging awards all over the world, namely the "Best Actress" award for Badhon at the 14th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) for her stellar performance, while director Saad received the “Jury Grand Prize”. The film has also bagged the "New Talent Award" at the HongKong Asian Film Festival 2021, “Best Actress” award for Badhon at the Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival 2021 and more, while also being nominated for the official nomination from Bangladesh for the Oscar 2022.
Another film which has similarly created the buzz around the world was young filmmaker Rezwan Shahriar Sumit's maiden film 'Nonajoler Kabbo’ (The Salt in our Waters), released for the moviegoers in Bangladesh on November 26. Regarding the film's unique and heart-warming promotional activities, Sumit told UNB: "We have successfully organised 3 screening sessions on November 23 and 24, as part of our coastal screening in Patuakhali, honouring the fact that the film is made on the life of our coastal fishing community - so they were the first ones to watch it in the country, as per my commitment to the community. The area which we used for the shooting, a remote fishing community in Patuakhali, has lost its existence due to river erosion. They were as emotional to see the land and story of their lives unfold on the silver screen, and it was emotional for me as well, also because of my 7 years long journey behind this dream project.”