The Dhaka Talent Campus: Dhaka Expands Its Horizons By Mohamed Mijarul Quayes
The 10th Dhaka International Film Festival was held in Dhaka from January 10th to 18th, 2008. The event is organized by the Rainbow Film Society since 1992, initially as an annual event and subsequently held biannually. For the first time, the festival included the Dhaka Talent Campus, a six-day workshop for aspiring young filmmakers, film critics and journalists. This parallel event, running from January 12th to 17th , aimed to utilize the ambience, resource and assembly of cinema professionals as well as creative talents old and new. Each day’s program consisted of four interactive 90-minutes workshops, each session involving a presentation or discussion by one or more guest speakers.
A total of 16 participants signed up for the Campus, which despite some hiccups proved to be very engaging.
I feel that a few words about the festival proper are in order here. Organising the festival over the last sixteen years has not always been hassle-free. There have also been organizational limitations. But the current edition was been seriously marred by problems that limited the number of films screened, and the rather elaborate Festival segments that were planned. The talent campus has however proceeded fairly smoothly. It drew upon local resources as well as foreign delegates, and featured discussions on the development of scripts, cinematography, digital photography, direction, acting, sound, the aesthetics of editing, etc. The regular international seminar segment of the festival was subsumed by the Talent Campus. A number of guests from the festival’s programs were also invited to discuss their work to create an organic link between the Campus and the DIFF.
The topics for the Campus included both technical and critical issues. On the first count, presentations covered film screening, techniques of film making, designing a film production, directing the actor, theatre experience in relation to the film, screenplay etc.
Critical issues covered in the Campus presentations included: “Government Patronization of Regional Film with Special Reference to Assam” (Bobbeeta Sharma and Moloya Goswami, India); “Documentary Film: A Bangladeshi Perspective in Relation to World Documentary Filmmaking” (Manzare Hasin Murad, Bangladesh); “Censorship Problems in Third World Countries” (Ric Waiserman, USA) and “Georgian Film: The Soviet Era” (Salome Kikaleishvili, Georgia).
The seminar sessions consisted of four sessions in the same format as the other Campus presentations. Peter Van Bueren of the Netherlands presented a paper titled “Aesthetics of Cinema: Critic and Reviewer” in the first session of the seminar. The second paper of the day was Mijarul Quayes’ “Tracking the Nexus between Audience and Film”. On the second day, Nenad Dukic of Serbia made a presentation on the role of the film critic in contemporary world cinema, and Alexis Krasilovsky of the US spoke on the challenges of independent filmmaking and the freedom to film.
The outcome of the Campus was mixed. It has undoubtedly been a good beginning, in that it has added value to the Festival. DIFF is no longer about films screened, experience shared or intellectual seminars. It has now moved on towards sustaining talent — of developing the filmmakers of tomorrow. Some of the sessions were more engaging than others, and sessions tended to be less interactive than expected. Keeping the sessions on schedule was also a problem. There is an interest among aspiring filmmakers to utilize the Campus as an opportunity both as a hands-on training workshop and an advanced filmmaking course.
The first Dhaka Talent Campus has generated enthusiasm, and the first Campus should be able to provide a foundation on which to plan and prepare for the next Campus in 2010.