One day after waking up, Abrar discovers that he is hallucinating. He finds himself in a newfound imaginary world. But the imaginary world looks exactly like reality. All the same crimes keep happening around him, but he cannot protest. He can just stare at them, just like everyone else and feel sorry for himself and his sheer lack of power.
No, Abrar is not someone we know in real life. Rather, he is a powerful symbolic character from "Hoosh", one of the movies being shown at the 14th International Children's Film Festival, being organised in three different venues in Dhaka, despite concerns regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The only ticket to see the movies here is your mask," said one of coordinators of the '14th International Children's Film Festival'. That is, if you are wearing a mask, you no longer need a ticket - a measure quite fitting for the contingencies posed by the pandemic.
Under the banner 'Future in Frames,' the most anticipated event for children was inaugurated on January 30, showcasing the talents from different nations and sharing the values of different cultures through cinema.
It is needless to say that the pandemic has affected this popular event. Although the event management team has taken precautions to maintain a safe environment, still the number of attendees is not as overwhelming as it was in the previous years.
As the schools and colleges remain closed due to the pandemic, a major portion of the festival's audience are unable to attend the event. Nevertheless, it continues to serve the community in order to create broader art appreciation among children.
The films are being exhibited in three different venues: the Central Public Library, the National Museum and the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Until February 5, a total of 179 long and short films have been selected from 37 countries around the world for viewing at these venues.
These films have been categorised into six segments of which the social film section on the "new normal" is the most relevant and interesting. In this section, the young filmmakers tried to depict the interesting norms birthed by the coronavirus pandemic.
We had a conversation about this event with one of the 66 young filmmakers 'Adittya Basak' who participated in this competition. His short film 'Hoosh' was exhibited in the festival. The movie immaculately points out the various malaises pervading our society and how this toxic culture has not been recognised by the majority of the population.
Aditya said, "The aim of my movie was to create awareness on some specific issues existing in our society. The film was a medium of protest from my point of view, and I felt great to showcase my interests among the young generation."
Besides, there is a significant number of Bengali movies that have been presented here like 'Shorot '71', 'The Barbershop', 'A Day like Everyday', 'Insomnia', 'Thonga', 'Fregoli Delusion', 'Moments of innocence' and many others.
Our childhood favourite 'Amar Bondhu Rashed' is on the list as well. One of the volunteers of this program, Md. Rafiur Rahman said, "This program has been a great part of my childhood and I am glad to see that the children of this day and age are enjoying this as well". He further said, "The selected international movies are getting good responses, but due to the pandemic, parents are hesitant about bringing their children in a public place like this."
Under the auspices of the Children's Film Society of Bangladesh, this festival has been organised for both entertainment and educational purposes since 2007. In our mainstream education system, it is difficult for the next generation to express their ideas and thoughts. Hence, the goal of this youth-led organisation is to curate young talents under a single platform and encourage them to develop movies out of passion.
Along with cinemas, the festival also included a workshop on scriptwriting as well. Sadia Khalid Reeti and Amitav Reza Chowdhury will share their expert insights with young filmmakers. The prize-giving ceremony will be held on February 5, 2021.