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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Preserving history in motion

Bangladesh Film Archive celebrates 31st anniversary

By Nadia Sarwat - May 20, 2009

Bangladesh Film Archive celebrated its 31st anniversary on May 17 with renewed enthusiasm and hopes, as it is finally going to move to its own building at Agargaon, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar. The institute has also managed to secure a generous grant from Japan recently. On the occasion of the anniversary, a daylong event was held at the Central Public Library, featuring a poster exhibition, discussion and screening of the classic feature film "Shurjo Dighal Bari" (1979).

Screen diva of yesteryears, and currently a member of the parliament, Sarah Begum Kabori inaugurated the poster exhibition at the Shawkat Osman Auditorium premises. Dr. Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, additional secretary, Ministry of Information was present as special guest. The exhibition featured over a hundred rare posters of Bengali feature films that were released between 1959 and 1991. Posters of "Matir Pahar" (1956), "Dharapat" (1963), "Shutorang" (1964), "Rupban" (1965), "Abirbhab" (1968), "Arunodoyer Agnisakshi" (1972), "Dhirey Bohey Meghna" (1973), "The Rain" (1976), "Dumurer Phool" (1978), "Ashikkhito" (1978), "Janmo Thhekey Jolchhi "(1981) and many more films were on display at the exhibition. 

The discussion was presided over by Information Secretary Samar Chandra Pal. State Minister for Housing and Public Works Advocate Abdul Mannan Khan was the chief guest. Noted cultural personality Syed Hasan Imam was present as special guest. Filmmaker and president of Bangladesh film Archive Alumni Association, Morshedul Islam reminisced on the early days of Bangladesh Film archive. Dr. Muhammad Jahangir Hossain, director general of Bangladesh Film Archive, welcomed the audience and informed on the history, development and recent activities of the organisation. Bangladesh Film Archive (BFA) started its journey under the name 'Film Institute and Archive' in 1978. It's been a member of International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) in Brussels since 1980. Committed to promote and preserve films and rare documents on celluloid, BFA acts as a centre to encourage a healthy film movement in the country. The organisation also extends support to national and international film festivals to familiarise the audience with the heritage of Bangladeshi cinema. 

The organisation has a collection of 2,269 films including a copy of the first film in the world by the Lumier Brothers (1896). BFA also has a rich library where thousands of books on films, still photographs, posters, scripts, books of songs, magazines and other documents are preserved. Beside, BFA organises many research-based and educational programmes, trainings, workshops, seminars and symposium on films. BFA also screens films once a week.  Recognising the importance of preserving films as "documents in motion," and to develop the organisation as a full-fledged film institution, the State Minister assured to provide necessary support to the organisation on behalf of the government of Bangladesh, calling it a "national responsibility." 

The event ended with a screening of the film, "Shurjo Dighal Bari," scripted and directed by Shiekh Neyamat Ali and Masihuddin Shaker. Adapted from the novel by Abu Ishaak, the film's story is set in the backdrop of the famine in the '50s.


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