The 20th edition of the Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF), one of the most prestigious film events in Bangladesh, officially began in the city Saturday to showcase the creations of some of the best contemporary filmmakers - 225 films from 70 countries.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen inaugurated the nine-day festival as the chief guest while the event was chaired by State Minister for Foreign Affairs and chief patron of the festival Md Shahriar Alam.

State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid, Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Vikram Kumar Doraiswami and festival director Ahmed Muztaba Zamal also spoke.

Dr Momen said the DIFF has created space for young and aspiring filmmakers in Bangladesh and beyond to connect with global artistic trends - contributing immensely to shaping an increasingly healthy and positive national film culture.

Appreciating Rainbow Film Society, he said its annual festivals have been significant in shaping the young minds towards accepting diversity, globalism and liberalism. "Movies and films play an important role in the development of a generation."

Dr Momen declared that the auditorium of Foreign Service Academy will screen some movies from Sunday as an integral part of this festival.

"I appreciate the work of Rainbow Film Society which has dedicated itself to the promotion of a healthy cine culture in Bangladesh since 1977. It is indeed one of the most active film entities in the film society movement of Bangladesh," he said.

KM Khalid said the importance of film for a society can be understood by looking at the former Soviet Union. "It chose film as one of the tools of its historic political movement, which was successful."

Muztaba Zamal said: "Although the ongoing global pandemic of Covid-19 impacted many of our plans, we tried to include all the sections of films in this festival as well as a hybrid format for the second time in a row," he said. "And the next festival will take place from January 14-23, 2023."

Shahriar Alam said: "Our government has always ensured a healthy cine culture although film industries around the world have evolved and seen ups and downs. And Rainbow Film Society has been assisting the government in this mission through this festival every year."

One hundred and twenty-five full-length feature films and 96 short and independent films are scheduled to enthral the moviegoers at the festival, where Bangladesh will be represented through 18 full-length feature films and 22 short and independent films.

The films will be screened at the Bangladesh National Museum, Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, Star Cineplex, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Sufia Kamal National Public Library and the academy auditorium of the foreign ministry.

They will be screened under 10 categories - Asian cinema competition section, retrospective, wide angle, tribute, Bangladesh panorama, cinema of the world, children films, women filmmakers, short and independent films and spiritual films.

The DIFF will also feature the Eighth Dhaka International Conference on Women in Cinema 2022 at the Samson Lounge, Dhaka Club from January 16-17 and West Meets East: Screenplay Lab from January 16-19 at Alliance Francaise de Dhaka.

The Rainbow Film Society has been organising the DIFF every year since 1992 and the 20th edition of the festival will conclude on January 23.

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