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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Documenting Bangladesh 3

Seminar on importance of screening documentaries on TV

By Nadia Sarwat

April 19, 2009

Documentary films portray reality as it is in an artistic way. Thus it can be both a living document of history and a powerful force against social injustice. Though there are several non-fictional, documentary based programmes aired on different TV channels, except on some special occasion, very few documentary films are aired on the TV channels in our country. Addressing this issue, a roundtable was held on the third day of the documentary festival, "Documenting Bangladesh 3", which began at the Central Public Library on April 16.

Fauzia Khan, President of Bangladesh Documentary Council presented the key-notepaper at the seminar on " Importance of screening documentary films on Television Medium." Eminent media personalities Atiqul Haque Choudhury, Nawazish Ahmed, Sara Zaker, Sadya Afreen Mallick, Dewan Shamsur Rakib and others were present as discussants at the seminar moderated by filmmaker Manzare Hasin Murad. 

Pointing to her personal experience as a documentary filmmaker, Fauzia Khan brought forth the limitations of reaching the audience. "Several young individuals are currently eager about documentary filmmaking. Their films represent different shades and colours of our society in an innovative way. But there is no system for marketing these freelance filmmakers' endeavour. Our television channels can play a key role in this respect," she said. Emphasising the importance of documentary films in generating social and historical awareness, Sadya Afreen Mallick said, "Documentary screening should take the form of a social movement. Screening of documentaries or infotainments should focus on the urban areas first, where we have the most wastage, (beginning from energy to serious social issues such as HIV/AIDS, drug abuse, trafficking) and spread out on to the suburbs. And not only through television. Films should be screened at the village level, in small localities and communities in the cities on a regular basis to build awareness among the masses."

Sara Zaker suggested that documentary films could be serialised and issue oriented. About attracting the sponsors concentration, she said, "Organisations should be reminded of their 'Corporate Social Responsibility' to promote documentaries with a social cause." 

Atiqul Haque Choudhury spoke on the limitations of the television channels authorities, as they have to focus mainly on their investments and returns. He mentioned that the sponsors should be addressed to promote documentary films. 

Nawazish Ahmed said, "In an age of extreme globalisation and marketing, the problem becomes manifold. There is no alternative to popularising documentary films to the audience first. Otherwise, channel authorities or sponsors would not be interested. Documentary filmmakers should be more strategic and patient while facing this reality." 

Organised by Bangladesh Documentary Council, the festival has screened several documentaries by prominent and promising filmmakers made during the last couple of years. "Kansater Pothey" by Tareque and Catherine Masud, "Swapnobhumi" by Tanvir Mokammel, "Elyeaser Khoa(n)ri" by Shibu Kumar Shil; "Stories of Change" by Simon and Sara; "Melodies of Soul" by Shabnam Ferdousi, "Genocide Goes On" by Saiful Islam Journal are some of the films that were screened on the third day, April 18. The festival ended yesterday.


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