Saturday, August 15, 2009

Seminar: Cinema of Bangladesh: Re-reading Popular Culture and Construction of Identity

The Event

Date: 18 August, 2009, Tuesday, 10:30 am

Vanue: Senate Building, Dhaka University

Organized by: Dept. of Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Dhaka and Bangladesh Film Archive

1. “6 Song, 10 Fights and 1 Affair: Re-reading Bangla Cinema”
Presenter: Lotte Hoek, Lecturer, University of Amsterdam
2. “Construction of Identity in the Independent Films of Bangladesh”
Presenter: Fahmidul Haq, Assistant Professor, Mass Communication and Journalism, Dhaka University

1. Manosh Chowdhury, Faculty Member, Anthropology Department, Jahangirnagar University
2. Matin Rahman, Filmmaker
3. Zahidur Rahim Anjan, President, Bangladesh Short Film Forum
4. Salimullah Khan, Writer


Presentation 1: “Six Songs, Ten Fights, One Love: Re-reading Bangladeshi Cinema”
By Lotte Hoek

In this paper, I argue that an understanding of popular cinema cannot rely solely on a reading of a film text. Instead, such a text must be placed in its production context and its technological environment before it can function as an object for social scientific enquiry. Currently, the analysis of popular Bangladeshi cinema lacks any thorough engagement with its production context. In this paper, I will highlight one part of the FDC production environment. On the basis of this I will suggest a possible way of re-reading popular Bangladeshi cinema by investigating the diegetic results of the lack of use of wild tracks in the FDC.

Presentation 2: “Construction of Identity in the Independent Films of Bangladesh”
By Fahmidul Haq

This paper tends to analyze how Bengali Muslim identity, the national identity of Bangladesh, is represented in selected independent films. The analysis finds independent cinema of Bangladesh as an influential cultural institution and as an ideal ‘system of representation’ it tries to ‘homogenize’ the nation through depicting Bengaliness, the ethno-linguistic identity approach, as the only identity approach of Bengali Muslims, and it suggests this preferred identity as progressive and modern and portrays Muslimness, the religious identity approach, as the ‘other’ identity which is or should be considered as non-progressive and primitive. As a part of homogenizing the ‘imagined community’, independent cinema widens the prevailing gap between the two conflicting identities – Bengaliness and Muslimness. The findings also suggest that to sustain the ethnic and cultural elements of Bengaliness on the screen, directors don’t hesitate to orientalize themselves to the global audience. The paper highlights and tries to establish popular religion, the syncretic identity approach within Bengali-Muslim identity, which is ignored in prevailing identity discourse in Bangladesh and it examines how this approach is dealt in the independent films.