For the very first time, the European Union Delegation to Bangladesh is organising the Bangladesh-EU Film Festival in partnership with the EU Member States that are represented in Dhaka: Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, France, Sweden and Spain, as well as the Goethe Institute and the Alliance Française. Our goal is to bring together some of the best films from Europe and Bangladesh. We have taken this initiative on the occasion of 50 years of Bangladesh’s independence as a token of our long-lasting partnership. With this festival, we aim to create a new platform for cultural exchange, enriching our diplomatic ties.
No other medium is perhaps better placed in fostering this understanding than cinema, which provides us with an opportunity to embark on a voyage of exploring other cultures through visual depictions and sounds that can be enjoyed at the comfort of one’s home in solitary contemplation or in groups. This is why our festival will be held online, to help the audience enjoy films, even if they are located in the furthest corners of Bangladesh. Moreover, we want films to be understood, eliminating the barriers of language; hence, all European films have been subtitled in Bangla.
Bangladesh is a country of rich literary heritage, and this richness is also emerging in its film industry. Bangla films today are not just restricted within the borders of Bangladesh but have hit the theatres of Europe and around the world. In this regard, this festival provides a unique opportunity to build a bridge through harnessing social reciprocity.
The festival will present 7 European feature films, 7 Bangladeshi films and 7 international short films on climate change. All these films have excellent records with nearly all winning awards. From Germany, “The Audition” is an award-winning movie about a musical contest, from France, “The Perfume” was a runaway success; the Spanish film “Fire Will Come” recounts the fragility of an otherwise serene life while the Italian comedy “My Brother Chases Dinosaurs” focuses on the importance of social inclusion. The Swedish film “Sami Blood” talks about a woman’s dream to escape from racism in the 1930s in Sweden; the Dutch drama “Romy’s Salon” highlights the mundane reality of life. Finally, the Danish film “Daniel” illustrates the hardship of a young Danish photographer, Daniel Rye, who was held hostage by ISIS for 13 months.
The festival also includes an exciting selection of Bangla films, of which three are premieres: Bangla Surf Girls, Bagania, and Free Spirits. Each of these films has a unique storyline that captures the stories of human lives and how they are affected by social forces. In Bangla Surf Girls, we find the stories of women who continue their passion to surf, overcoming obstacles; in “Bangania”, we discover the untold stories of tea garden workers, while “Free Spirits” narrate how social media has given an empowering voice to the communities. We included a feature film on climate change, “Shunte Ki Pao”, which depicts how climate change impacts a family in southern Bangladesh – one of the most vulnerable areas in the country. The feature film, “Matir Projar Deshe” perceives rural Bangladesh through the eyes of a child who lost his playmate as she was forced to become a child bride. “No Dorai” portrays the stories of bold young women who break against societal norms to engage in their passion for surfing. Finally, we will screen the film “Under Construction”, which deconstructs the idea of a woman and demonstrates de Beauvoir’s most famous words “one is not born, but rather becomes a woman.”
With this festival, we are launching a new chapter of EU-Bangladesh cultural exchange, focusing on many important issues that are already part of our mutual cooperation: the empowerment of women and girls, climate change adaptation, safe migration, sustainable reintegration of refugees and good governance.
I hope you will all enjoy watching these unique films in the comfort of your homes during these challenging Covid-19 times.