The 9th edition of Liberation DocFest Bangladesh concluded on Saturday, crowning Mahdi Fleifel (Denmark/Lebanon) directed "3 Logical Exits" as the best film of the International Competition section.
The five-day festival also awarded the film "Why Not" in the National Competition section, directed by Shekh Al Mamun.
The 9th edition of the fest drew a tremendous response and participation from film enthusiasts around the world by providing a breathing space for all amid the coronavirus pandemic for the second year in a row,
Organized annually by the Liberation War Museum (LWM), the edition wrapped up with a concluding and award-giving ceremony on Saturday night via Zoom. The closing ceremony was joined by legendary actor and former Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor MP, Liberation War Museum Trustee Mofidul Hoque, award-winning filmmaker, educator and also late filmmaker Tareque Masud's wife and Chairperson of Tareque Masud Memorial Trust (TMMT) Catherine Masud, one of the National Competition jurors Alam Khorshed, festival director Tareq Ahmed and participating filmmakers from the different regions of the world.
Lauding the success of the festival, Asaduzzaman Noor said: "I express my heartfelt gratitude on behalf of our Liberation War Museum, to everyone concerned with the 9th Liberation DocFest Bangladesh, supported by the Dhaka DocLab. These young filmmakers are working with various limitations. Still, they managed to tell and are continuously telling great stories about liberation, freedom and independence."
"Viewers and makers couldn't come to the LWM and enjoy the festival live due to the pandemic, yet everyone successfully contributed to organizing the DocFest this year in this new virtual medium. We will see each other, shake hands and have tea or coffee together in a better future, celebrating the untold stories," Noor said at the event.
Catherine Masud lauded the organizers and participating filmmakers from home and abroad, saying: "In our time, Tareque Masud and I tried to portray the truth against all threats and censorship. To the young filmmakers, I urge you to never feel afraid of telling your stories through documentaries like these. We will never rise if we rise alone. We must rise together."
Speakers and organisers expressed their heartiest gratitude to the festival's technology partner Cosmos Foundation for its constant support in both the arrangement and operation of this year's festival, continuing from the previous editions of this annual event.
Summarizing the festival, Liberation DocFest director Tareq Ahmed said that almost 2000 films were submitted in this year's edition, and a total of 164 documentaries from 51 countries were screened throughout the five-day festival.
Concluding the event Trustee of Liberation War Museum Mofidul Hoque thanked all participating filmmakers, organizers and volunteers who came with utmost determination to organize another successful DocFest, narrating the stories of freedom and independence at their level best.
"The LWM expresses its gratitude to the jury members and the filmmakers, and we are thankful to the participants from home and abroad. We thank these participatory filmmakers for helping us understand the situation of documentary filmmaking around the world, and for making us understand the challenges the filmmakers usually face, especially their process of overcoming all hurdles. We are thankful to our youthful volunteers, they have done an excellent job managing all the digital arrangements properly," Hoque said in his closing remarks.
He mentioned that the LWM is grateful to eminent cultural personality Syed Hasan Imam for inaugurating the festival, and also to late eminent filmmaker Tareque Masud for successfully linking the past with the dynamic present and future, against all odds.
Expressing gratitude to Catherine Masud, he said that Tareque Masud was very hopeful and enthusiastic about the LWM and this festival.
He also mentioned other deceased trustee board members including Ziauddin Tariq Ali, Aly Zaker and Robiul Hussein, saying all of these noted personalities were the true visionaries of the Liberation DocFest.
"What the festival is trying to achieve is very important. It's very important for a museum to get involved in this sort of audio-visual engagements and to that, festivals like this are very important and helpful. During the pandemic for over the last two years, museums around the world are now re evaluating the usage and usefulness of using this new technology. Physically, our doors are closed; but we have opened our windows like the Liberation DocFest, and I believe the museum is being tremendously helped and benefitted through this festival," he added.
Expressing gratitude on behalf of the LWM, Hoque said: "We must thank the Cosmos Foundation, its Chairman Enayetullah Khan and Executive Director Nahar Khan, and its dedicated technology team for providing flawless and continuous support. They have been encouraging and patronising the LWM and this festival for such a long time."
Jury member of the National Competition section and noted Bangladeshi film critic Alam Khorshed announced "Why Not" as the best film in the National Competition category, directed by Shekh Al Mamun. Regarding the selection, Alam Khorshed said: "The film was selected for its brilliant storytelling and especially for adopting flawless cinematic techniques."
The director of the film will receive Tk One Lakh, a crest and a certificate.
Asaduzzaman Noor announced "3 Logical Exits," a film about the ongoing crisis in Palestine directed by Mahdi Fleifel as the winner in the 'International Competition' section. Expressing his joy over this achievement, Fleifel said: "I will continue telling our stories through these types of documentaries until Palestine gets freedom," he said. He will receive 1,000 USD, a crest and a certificate.
Alongside these two major awards, two Youth Jury Awards were announced in the ceremony. "Jolo Guerilla '71" by Sumon Delwar was announced by Moutusi Jubaida Rahman as the winner in the National Competition and 'Son of the Streets', directed by Palestinian filmmaker Mohammed Almughanni was announced the best film in the International Competition section, announced by Lamia Tasneem.
Special Jury Mention in the International Competition category for this year's festival was announced by Jury member Emmanuel Moonchil Park for "Home, and a Distant Archive", directed by Dorothy Cheung. She is a filmmaker and artist, currently based in Hong Kong.
Festival authority announced that viewers from Bangladesh can enjoy all the films until end this month, on the website of the Liberation DocFest.