15th Dhaka International Film Festival – Assamese film wins Audience Award

Bobby Sarma Baruah’s ‘Sonar Baron Pakhi’, winner, Audience Award, Dhaka International Film Festival, 2017

The Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) was held January 12 to 20, 2017, under the theme, ‘Better Film, Better Audience, Better Society.’ The festival is organized by Rainbow Film Society under the leadership of its Director, Ahmed Muztaba Jamal. The awards were announced on closing night. While the Assamese film ‘Sonar Baron Pakhi’ won the Audience award, another short film from India Sivaprasad K V’s ‘Appooppanthaadi’ won a Special Mention.

Mireya Samper, from Iceland, , programmer/jury member, says …

“…the Dhaka International Film Festival was held for the fifteenth time over the time period of 25 years. Offering such a big event in Bangladesh is amazing and they do an admirable job, considering that they are still a developing country. In my opinion what makes this festival outstanding is the focus on women. In a country of a huge male power the festival provides a big section on woman (centric) films, a two day conference about woman in cinema and the majority of the programmers and the delegates are woman. There is respect for a woman’s reality and their capacity is honoured here. It’s courageous to do that and really remarkable to experience the contrast between the society and the festival.”

 Roohi Dixit, co-director of a festival entry, writes …

My documentary feature with Ziba Bhagwagar, ‘Spaces Between’ was selected at the festival this year.  Last year when  our documentary ‘Scattered Windows, Connected Doors’ screened at the 2014 edition, we could not attend. So, this is our first time in Dhaka. Just an hour away from Calcutta, landing in the neighbouring country of Bangladesh felt pretty much like a home away from home. This perhaps is the shared beauty of being South Asian.

It was heartening that our own film received with so much enthusiasm. Our film is on performance art, based on contemporary artist Nikhil Chopra’s performance at the Kochi Muziris Biennalle 2014. It attempts to unearth the artist’s mind—it is both real and imagined, a sort of a poetic dialogue. When the audience deeply connects to your work it stops being just your own and it equally belongs to them. We felt that our film transcended and became an inquiry into the self for a lot of people who watched it.
The festival programme had a special focus on the Middle East. Films like ’3000 Nights’ by Mai Masri (Palestine, Lebanon), ‘Paris Tehran’ by Kaveh Oveisi (Iran), ‘The Deep’ by Baltasar Kormakur (Iceland) and ‘The Island of Monks’ by Anne Christine Girardot (Netherlands) spoke to me personally. The festival was divided into various sections: Asian Film Competition, Retrospective Film Section, Cinema of the World, Nordic Film Session, Children Film Section, Short and Independent Section, Women Filmmaker and Spiritual Film Section. We would have loved to see all the films from across sections but that was impossible!

The 3rd Dhaka International Conference of Women in Cinema was another enriching experience. Wonderfully curated with a special focus on women in cinema, it had some pertinent paper presentations and discussions by historians, feminists, film critics, writers, directors, producers, actors, academicians, and film scholars. The conference had the entire women (also men) contingent of the festival exchange stories from their native countries about the representation of women both in front and behind the camera, in their local cinemas. These conversations became the back bone of the festival itself.

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