A six-day Dhaka Doclab, an international workshop-cum-market pitching programme for promoting South Asian film makers in international market, began on August 31 at Liberation War Museum.

Dhaka Doclab had partnered with the Liberation War Museum and was supported by several local and international organisations such as Cosmos Foundation, International Film Initiative of Bangladesh (IFIB), Goethe-Institut Bangladesh and others.

The programme included 4-day mentoring and 2-day documentary project pitching sessions. European, Japanese and Korean filmmakers, broadcasters, sales agents, producers and festival managers also participated at the workshops.

Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor was chief guest at the inauguration ceremony, which was also attended by Dhaka DocLab Trustee Board Chairman Nasir Uddin Yousuf, Liberation War Musuem trustee and cultural personality Mofidul Haq, Documentary Research Initiative Kolkata founder Nilutpol Mojumder, Dhaka DocLab director Tarek Ahmed, IFIB president Samia Zaman and others.

Event know-how

The six-day workshop was divided into two segments. In the first segment, the participants were divided into four groups and were trained on the first three days of the workshop. The international guests then provided mentorship for the participants in various technical aspects of filmmaking.

In the second segment, 15 selected participants pitched their co-produced projects in front of local and international producers, television broadcasters, commissioning editors, film distributors, film industry experts and representatives of film funding organisations.

Each of the selected participants got 15 minutes to pitch their ideas, and later got the opportunity to sit with the interested broadcasters, film donors, and film distributors to discuss the execution of their projects.

The workshop's concluding ceremony was held on September 5, with awards given out to the best film projects by the participants.

'The main intention of organising this progaramme is to provide a platform for local and south Asian filmmakers and help them to access international market. The participants will gain knowledge about international co-productions at the programme', said Tareq Ahmed, director of Doclab.

'A total of 25 young filmmakers and observers from various countries participated in the workshops. Each filmmaker got seven minutes of presentation time. They also got four minutes to describe their stories and themes and three minutes to screen trailers of the projects', Tareq added.

The inaugural ceremony was followed by a screening of the documentary film Distant Barking of Dogs, directed by Simon Lereng Wilmont.

Filmmaker Paul Pauwels from the European Documentary Network said that "Though the documentary film making scene here is relatively in its early stages, it seems to be gaining momentum with time. And with such initiatives grooming the film makers of today, it will not be long until we see the prominence of the talents here, illuminating the international arenas."

Bangladeshi filmmakers displayed seven projects, while Indian and Nepalese filmmakers displayed six and two projects respectively. The Bangladeshi projects included Saiful Haq Omi's "136- Act Rohingya", Farzana Boby's "Rhythm of Bubble", Mehei Mustafa's "Making Places", Faiham Ebna Sharif's "Tea Tales of Bangladesh", Saiful Jarnal's "Jummon's Cinema Fantasy", Nabila Mrittika Hossain's "Hip Hop" and Anwar Chowdhury's "The Last Visit".

One of the masterclass moderators, British filmmaker Sean McAllister, had previously won the Special Jury Prize at the 2005 edition of the Sundance Film Festival. During the masterclass he talked about his 2008 film "Japan: A Story of Love and Hate", which he told participants could inspire them to document similar melancholic stories in local context. "They have so many themes of sufferings and injustice to choose from", he told Dhaka Courier.

Berlinale Spotlight made way to Dhaka

The Berlinale has presented specially curated film programmes around the globe for many years now. Berlinale Spotlight is an extension of the main festival in February and makes Berlinale activities visible throughout the year. On the occasion of the Dhaka DocLab, the Berlin International Film Festival presented a Berlinale Spotlight in Bangladesh. "Berlinale Spotlight gives us the opportunity to make our work concrete and tangible beyond the confines of the festival in February. We're excited about the IFI Bangladesh and Dhaka DocLab's interest in the Berlinale and thank them for the chance to network with filmmakers in Bangladesh." said Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick.

"The Berlinale's interest in Bangladesh is excellent news for our film professionals. The new generation of filmmakers in Bangladesh is working hard to establish their place alongside the world film fraternity. This is an excellent opportunity for them," commented Samia Zaman, president of the International Film Initiative of Bangladesh (IFIB).

Within the framework of the Dhaka DocLab, Berlinale initiatives such as the Berlinale World Cinema Fund (WCF), Berlinale Talents and the Berlinale Co-Production Market were presented alongside a documentary film programme.

Dr Kirsten Hackenbroch, Director of Goethe-Institut Bangladesh said that Berlinale Spotlight Bangladesh offers the independent filmmakers of this country a chance to feel and learn about Berlinale, gives Berlinale a chance to meet the vibrant young generation of film makers, and gives Goethe-Institut a chance to explore and kick-off a future collaborating in film.

During her presentation, Dorothee Wenner, Delegate to the Berlin Film Festival for South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa said that they are hoping to intensify their network into the Bangladeshi film community on personal, professional and artistic levels. First impression, the timing could not have been more perfect as they are learning about a lot of interesting film projects here in the making. The Berlinale Spotlight in Bangladesh has been a great way to initiate a collaboration between the Goethe-Institut, the Dhaka DocLab and International Film Initiative of Bangladesh.

Meenakshi Shedde, South Asia Consultant, Berlin Film Festival stated that, "for her coming from Mumbai, the heart of Bollywood, it is a particular pleasure, not only to discover a variety of regional film talent from all over India, but also all over South Asia. Bangladeshi talents have already made a mark on the international film festival circuit. Through this collaboration between the Berlinale and three vital cultural institutions in Dhaka, we hope the Berlinale can be a launching pad for many more film talents from Bangladesh in the years to come."

Dhaka Doclab is striving to be Bangladesh's premier documentary co-production platform for pitching and mentoring of documentary filmmakers.

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