Dhaka, Jan 21 (UNB) – For award-winning filmmaker and film historian Dr Debjani Halder, films are everything.
Filmmaking is her passion and she says she feels incomplete without it. “Film is the highest medium of the communication,” she told UNB in an interview.
Debjani has authored several monographs and articles and recently, received fellowship from Indian Institute of Advanced Studies Shimla, where she will work on Art Artist and Social Life: A Critical Look at Indian Parallel Cinema (1950s to 1980s).
She has made a number of documentaries on diverse topics and subjects. In 2000, she made a documentary, ‘Darken Lives’, on prostitutes. Six years later, she came up with ‘Transition’, focusing on the political violence in West Bengal. Then, in 2007-8, she made ‘Water sentenced’ on the privatisation of water.
Her other works include ‘Documenting Agony Ritwik’ on neorealist Indian filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak, and ‘The Dark’ (2012-13) on the mining workers in ECL area.
Debjani, an independent filmmaker from Kolkata, presented a paper –
Body is not her own: Patriarchy: Violence and prostitution in Post Nineties none mainstream Cinema: A Critical Feminist Approach Key Words: Body, Sexuality, Violence and Indian Cinema – at the ‘Fifth Dhaka International Conference on Women in Cinema 2019’.
It was held at the Gallery of Alliance Francaise de Dhaka on January 11 and January 12 as part of the Dhaka International Film Festival 2019.
UNB recently interviewed the film director. Following is the excerpt:
Why do you focus deeply on social issues in your films?
I completed my Honours in History but did masters and PhD in films. I love to make films though my academic education was different. It is a plus point for me to think deeply about social problems. I always try to study contemporary social economy and political scenario before making any film.
As my main emphasis is to make parallel cinema, these films are made focusing on social issues. I stressed sociology and history together. So it helps me to think deeply on the issues.
What are the major challenges in making parallel cinema?
Raising fund is one the major challenges for making non-mainstream films. No matter how much realistic films we produce, whenever you ask producers for fund, they first consider the market value of the film and how much they can make from it.
The producers have some expectations. They want money in return and compromise in the scripts. Since I am used to practicing different type of genre in filmmaking and not interested in compromising with philosophy and ideology, I have to wait for government fund and organisations that encourage the way of parallel filmmaking.
So, it is difficult for me to produce documentary every year [but] I believe it is not a problem for me to wait two or three years for producing a good film.
Do various social problems, such as gender discrimination and sexual violence, influence your film scripting?
Filmmakers who initially started depicting social, contemporary and gender issues, sexuality and social crisis in their films faced many problems. Sometimes they were criticised but the situation has recently changed.
Many filmmakers are now focusing on social crisis. Now, feminism has influenced the way of thinking in filmmaking. Some films focus on prostitution, sexuality, and violence. But the producers ultimately want the return of their investment.
This is our success that social crisis and sexuality are at least discussed. Now many spectators also want to think and discuss these issues.
How do you deal with your challenges?
There are many challenges. Two of them are: first, when I start thinking out of the box and approach for finance. I face the second one working as a women director.
Filmmaking is my passion. So I think my life is incomplete without filmmaking. I do not consider film as an entertaining thing; it is the highest medium of communication.
Reading books, newspaper, and stories are not enough to present what problems I want to depict. Film is much more effective way of communicating the issues.
Can you explain the audience reactions and reception of your films?
A stereotypical thought about documentary and short films is that they are not entertaining and that the audience completely refutes these types of realistic films.
These films are not screened in multiplex or halls. When I submitted this at any film festival around the world, I saw the audience taking them very seriously. They can connect themselves with the theme. This is the scenario of a section of the audience.
But when these films were screened for the general people, they could connect with [the work] as I tried to focus on their problem and reality. Our crisis is that we create stereotypes and typical division about the films. We also do not knock at the door of the audience with our films properly.
New York, Jan 17 (AP/UNB) — Harmony Korine's "The Beach Bum," Olivia Wilde's directorial debut and a documentary on the breakout campaign of Texas politician Beto O'Rourke will premiere at the annual South by Southwest Film Festival.
The Austin, Texas-based festival announced the lineup to its 26th edition Wednesday after previously revealing that Jordan Peele's "Us" will open the festival on March 8. Among the selections are the latest from "Spring Breakers" director Korine, starring Matthew McConaughey, and Wilde's "Booksmart," about graduating high-schoolers determined to cram four years of fun into one night.
Also set to premiere at SXSW: David Modigliani's behind-the-scenes portrait of Rourke's campaign to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz and John Lee Hancock's Bonnie and Clyde manhunt drama "The Highwaymen," with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson.
New York, Jan 11 (AP/UNB) — The long-gestating Aretha Franklin biopic "Respect" is going ahead with stage director Liesel Tommy set to direct.
MGM announced Thursday that Tommy will helm the film, which is to star Jennifer Hudson. The "Dreamgirls" actress was cast as the late Queen of Soul in January 2018 after Franklin selected her for the role. At the time, Hudson performed a medley of Franklin's songs at Clive Davis' pre-Grammy bash.
Callie Khouri, who penned 1991's "Thelma & Louise," will write the script.
Tommy was nominated for a Tony Award for directing the 2016 Broadway production of "Eclipsed" starring Lupita Nyong'o. She is also set to direct a film adaption of Trevor Noah's autobiography.
Franklin died at the age of 76 in August from pancreatic cancer.
Dhaka, Jan 10 (UNB) - The nine-day 17th Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) began here on Thursday with the theme ‘Better Film, Better Audience and Better Society’.
Rainbow Film Society, which has been dedicated to the promotion of a healthy cine culture in Bangladesh and in celebrating the global mainstream in film and its social relevance since 1977, organised the festival.
Immediate past Finance Minister AMA Muhith was the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony held at the main auditorium of the National Museum.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs and chief patron of the DIFF Shahriar Alam presided over the session while festival director Ahmed Muztaba Zamal and Festival Executive Committee member M Hamid were also present on the occasion.
At the 17th DIFF, which will end on January 18, some 220 films from around 72 countries will be screened, say organisers.
The film screenings will be held at the Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, Blockbuster Cinemas at Jamuna Future Park, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Central Public Library Auditorium and National Museum Auditorium.
There are competitions named “Asian Cinema Section”, “Retrospective”, “Bangladesh Panorama Section”, “Cinema of the World Section”, “Children Films Section”, “Women Filmmakers Section”, “Short and Independent Films Section” and “Spiritual Films Section”.
Like previous years, Rainbow Film Society is also arranging a two-day ‘Fifth Dhaka International Conference on Women in Cinema 2019’ from Friday where woman filmmakers, actors and personalities from all over the world will take part.
Alongside, a two-day long International Film Critics Federation (FIPRESCI) Asian region conference will be held as part of 17th DIFF on January 13-14.
The aim of the conference is to motivate and introduce the Asian FIPRESCI members, who are less prioritised and are not getting the privileges properly.
Another very important segment that the 2019 DIFF is arranging in continuation of all the previous festivals is the Children’s Film Section.
Around 10 fiction films will be screened in this segment. These screenings are ideal family outings and will be open to all children and adults.
One film will be selected by audience vote for the Best Juvenile Film Audience Award. The award will be in the form of a certificate and a crest.
Alongside, a day-long programme ‘WEST MEETS EAST’ will be held at the Dhaka International Film Festival on January 14 at the Dhaka Club Samson Lounge.
An international film critic, a prominent festival official, a leading academic and an experienced producer will participate in the segment.
Los Angeles, Jan 9 (AP/UNB) — Mattel and Warner Bros. Pictures announced Tuesday that Robbie will star as the iconic doll in the franchise's first-ever live-action film. The 28-year-old "I, Tonya" actress will also co-produce the film under her LuckyChap Entertainment banner.
The Barbie film is the first announced deal to come out of toymaker's newly-established Mattel Films. The Barbie doll debuted at a New York toy fair in 1959.
Robbie said in a statement that she believes the film will have a "tremendously positive impact on children and audiences worldwide." The Oscar-nominated actress has also starred in "Mary Queen of Scots," and "Suicide Squad."
The film's title and release date have not been revealed.