The artists have taken a swipe against the recent "attacks" on films such as "Hawa" and "Saturday Afternoon."
At the press conference "Golpo Bolar Swadhinata Chai" at the Dhaka Reporters Unity in the capital Thursday, they questioned the lawsuit for allegedly violating wildlife conservation laws by the Forest Department's Wildlife Crime Prevention Unit against “Hawa” Director Mejbaur Rahman Sumon and demanding a proper explanation for why Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s much-anticipated film "Saturday afternoon" is stuck at the Bangladesh Film Censor Board.
The artists put forward a five-point demand.
A large number of artists joined the press conference, uniquely designed with barbed wire-fenced tables, organized by the country's entertainment industry's producers, artists, and associates. They demanded freedom of expression for Bangladeshi entertainment content, as well as justice for the two films - "Saturday Afternoon" and "Hawa."
Popular artists and content makers, including Nasir Uddin Yousuff, Jaya Ahsan, Chanchal Chowdhury, Morshedul Islam, Tariq Anam Khan, Afsana Mimi, Shampa Reza, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, Mejbaur Rahman Sumon, Amitabh Reza Chowdhury, Zahid Hasan, Nurul Alam Atique, Masum Reza, Kamar Ahmad Simon, Piplu R Khan, Gias Uddin Selim, Gousul Alam Shaon, Iresh Zaker, Afran Nisho, Azmeri Haque Badhan, Zakia Bari Momo, Nazifa Tushi, and singer Shibu Kumer Shill among others, joined the press conference on Thursday.
The five demands are immediate withdrawal of the case against "Hawa" under wildlife conservation laws, a well-justified explanation from the censor board on why "Saturday Afternoon" is not cleared by the censor board and not getting a clearance certificate, the abolishment of the censor board alongside the implementation of an updated and inclusive film certification law with the participation and consultation of all stakeholders, establishment of an updated and inclusive OTT policy with the participation and consultation of all stakeholders and assurance of prior notice before filing any case related to film or content, which must be discussed with the relevant authority.
Expressing concerns against the ongoing situations, artists and content makers opined that visual arts, such as film, cannot be created with passion and perfection if such barriers are put forward.
“Saturday Afternoon” Director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki said, “It’s been three years, yet I did not receive any logical explanation on why “Saturday Afternoon” is not cleared by the censor board. We have appealed against the decision from time to time, yet the situation is not resolved and our film did not get the censor certificate.”
“Films are like the headlights of society, and society cannot move forward nor progress if the headlights are forcefully turned off. We sincerely demand the release of our film from the censor board,” Farooki added.
Echoing the same, Jaya Ahsan said, “We don’t understand why this film is not cleared for this long. Didn't the Holey Artisan event take place in reality? A novel has been published on the incident, why can't we get the release of “Saturday Afternoon” about the same issue? This film has been unnecessarily put under the fire for no logical reason at all.”
Demanding justice against “Hawa,” she added: "Personally, I am known for being an animal advocate. In our surroundings, if we look at the pet market in the capital’s Nilkhet-Kataban area, animals are being treated inhumanely. What is the concerned authority doing in this regard? Films are fiction, should we stop making films?"
The artists and content makers expressed their aspiration to see prompt actions from the concerned authorities to resolve the issues and fulfilment of their five-point demands.