Four members from the feature film grants committee resigned soon after on Tuesday, citing ‘it is not honourable or logical to stay in the committee anymore’
The government of Bangladesh gave away close to Tk4 crore in film grants for the year 2018-2019 to a total of 13 recipients earlier this week. As the news of unfairness in selecting the grant recipients spread through the grape vine, film makers and activists questioned the accountability of the committee.
Four members from the feature film grants committee resigned soon after on Tuesday, citing “it is not honourable or logical to stay in the committee anymore.”
Veteran actor Mamunur Rashid, along with celebrated directors Nasir Uddin Yousuff Bachchu, Morshedul Islam and Matin Rahman resigned from the committee with a joint statement that said: “We have worked together before as members of this committee, but never had such an unfortunate experience.”
Film critic Masiuddin Shaker, a member of the short film grants committee, told Dhaka Tribune Showtime that a similar event might take place with their committee as well.
“We are thinking along the same lines as well. We will make it public in a day or two,” he said.
“I’ve been with this committee since the beginning, which was sometime last year. I’m not sure why this outburst happened this year specifically,” he added. “Maybe the change in the administration contributed to it.”
General Secretary of the Federation of Film Societies of Bangladesh, Belayat Hossain Mamun, told Showtime why he thinks the film community finally had enough of the lack of accountability when it comes to film grants.
“Every year around 80 filmmakers apply for the grant. With a broken system, the number of deserving yet deprived filmmakers is accumulating,” said Belayat, who never applied for a government film grant himself.
FFSB has been vocal about accountability of the selection process of the film grants and will hold a human chain next Tuesday at Shahbagh.
Filmmaker Mohammad Jahangir Hossain’s feature length script on film legend Hiralal Sen had earned top marks by the grants committee, but the grants went to other candidates holding significantly lower marks. Enraged by this unofficial news, Jahangir wrote a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 25 requesting her to look into the discrimination.
Jahangir told Showtime he feels he needs to tell the inspiring and heartbreaking story of Hiralal Sen. But not receiving the grant will make it difficult for him.
“I felt we were unjustly deprived,” he said. “Films, that were partially or fully shot beforehand, had also allegedly received grants before. Things need to change.”
He already researched a great deal and wrote a book called “Hiralal Sen: Ek Alochhayar Chitronatya,” which was launched by Jukto Publications at this year’s Ekushey Book Fair. In his biographical film, he wants to show how Hiralal accomplished milestones (like directing a short film in 1898, a feature film in 1903, a political film in 1905, a banned film in 1912 etc), but was never recognized for any of it. All his films were burnt in an accident during his final years. While Dadasaheb Phalke basks in the glory for being the father of Indian cinema, Hiralal’s story is buried under a pile of misfortune.
Jahangir had directed two short films before- “Udbastu”(1988, 5mins) and “Niruddesh” (2005, 22mins). This would be his first feature film.