Echoing the slogan of the organisers, Information Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud brought the 18th Dhaka International Film Festival to a close on Sunday by saying that better films and better audiences, who support and appreciate all the efforts that go into what appears on screen, can indeed contribute to the betterment of society. The slogan of this year's DIFF, chosen by organisers Rainbow Film Society, was 'Better Films, Better Audience, Better Society'.

"The need for good films is at its highest at present, as humans are becoming more like machines with advancement of civilization as we call it," Hasan Mahmud said, speaking as Chief Guest at the closing ceremony of the 18th DIFF at the National Museum in the capital.

State Minister for Cultural Affairs K M Khalid attended the ceremony as Special Guest. The program was presided over by festival executive committee member M Hamid.

Dr. Hasan paid homage to the memory of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and said, '"Bangabandhu established government patronization for films in the country. Back in 1957, he raised the Film Development Corporation Bill in the provincial parliament as Minister of Industries and Commerce and it was passed. That's how Film industry in Bangladesh commenced its journey.'"

State Minister for Cultural Affairs K M Khalid said, "We must encourage young generation for film-making and only then the industry would thrive. Our Ministry is going to establish a Cineplex in every upazila to bring back the golden days of film once again, and will cooperate in future endeavors like this wonderful international festival."

The 18th DIFF screened a total of 220 films, with participation from 74 countries in competitive categories spanning "Asian Cinema" "Retrospective ," "Bangladesh Panorama ," "Cinema of the World," "Children's Films," "Spiritual Films," "Women Filmmakers" and "Short and Independent Films" categories.

Iranian film Castle of Dreams (Ghasr- e-Shirin), directed by Reza Mirkarimi won the awards for Best Film and Best Director in the Asian Cinema category.

Several other awards were presented to the winners at the ceremony. The Badal Rahman Award for Best Children's Film was achieved by Loknat (Director Mohammadreza Haji Gholami, Iran); Audience Choice Award in the category Cinema of the World was won by prominent Indian-Bengali filmmaker Anjan Dutt for his debut participation in DIFF, Finally Bhalobasha. The prestigious Best Film Award by FIPRESCI Jury in Bangladesh Panorama Section was awarded to No Dorai, directed by Taneem Rahman Angshu.

Women filmmakers around the world received awards in three main categories with a special mention for each- Best Short Film Award in Short Fiction Category was achieved by Russian filmmaker Daria Binevskaya for My Name is Petya and Special Mention Award in this category went to Mexican filmmaker Sandra Concepción Reynoso Estrada for her short film Video Tape. Special Mention in Documentary Category was awarded to Mirjam Leuze (Canada, Germany) for her documentary The Whale and The Raven; while Asian filmmaker Dina Naser received award for Tiny Souls, selected as the Best Documentary.

Special Mention in Best Feature Film Category went to Iranian filmmaker Maryam Bahrololumi for her film Patio, while Polish filmmaker Malgorzata Imielska received award for Wszystko Dla Mojej Matki (All For My Mother) as the Best Feature Film.

Iranian movie The Feast of the Goat, directed by Saeed Zamanian won Special Mention in Short Fiction Category under the Spiritual Film Section, while the Best Short Film Award in this category went to Lovro Mrden for The Stamp. Iranian filmmaker Yaser Talebi's documentary Beloved won as the Best Documentary in the Spiritual Section, while Chinese filmmaker Yesir's film Fanshujiaomi (Koali and Rice) won the award as the Best Feature Film in the Spiritual section.

The films were screened from 11 to 19 January at several prominent venues in the city. Organizers Rainbow Film Society also hosted a two-day 'Sixth International Women Filmmakers Conference' on January 12-13 and a day-long programme 'West Meets East' on January 14 at the Samson H. Chowdhury Lounge of the Dhaka Club.

The festival Director and President of Rainbow Film Society Ahmed Mostofa Jamal announced that the 19th edition of DIFF will be held on January 16-24, 2021 and would be dedicated to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, marking the occasion of his birth centenary as Mujib Year, although it is officially being celebrated this year.

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