The Cannes Film Festival is one of the world's leading film festivals. The 75th edition of this festival ended last month. Bangladeshi film critic Bidhan Rebeiro has served as a juror in this year's event in the Fipresci section.
The Fipresci team chooses the best films to be awarded from the categories of Un Certain Regard and the Parallel Section International Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival.
Bidhan Rebeiro has selected the winning film by judging from the parallel section of International Critics Week, alongside a diverse array of critics from all across the globe. Before him, Ahmed Mujtaba Jamal was appointed as a critic for Fipreski in 2002. Tareq Masood's 'Matir Moyna' won the Fipresci Award in the same year. Afterwards, Ahmed Mujtaba Jamal was a critic of Fipresci twice in 2005 and 2009.
In 2019, Sadia Khalid Riti received an invitation from Fipresci. Abdullah Mohammad Saad's film 'Rehana Maryam Noor' made history by taking part in the official selection of Cannes in Riga in 2021. After the end of the festival on 26 May this year, Bidhan Rebeiro returned to the country on 5 June. The Business Standard grabbed the opportunity to speak with him regarding his Cannes experience.
Speaking about the festival, he said, "I tried around 18 years to obtain a place in the international film critic arena like 'Cannes Film Festival'. I have written seven books regarding cinema. Three of them are published in Kolkata. One of my books has also been translated into English. Given my profile, it was not difficult to get selected for a Cannes jury.
We wanted to know, what was his experience as a juror? He said, "The experience is great. Going to such a big festival and working with other jurors was a joyful and proud moment. The festival has various levels of film screenings and awards as well. This year, for the first time, Cannes authorities provided the Fipresci judges with the opportunity to walk the red carpet."
As judges, the Fipresci team had to look at 28 movies. Besides, he had to watch 9 more films at the festival. Ahmed Shawky (Egypt), Mariola Wiktor (Poland), Nathalie Chifflet (France), Simone Sorana (Italy), Jihane Bougrine (Morocco), Emanuel Levy (USA), Magali Van Reeth (France) and Bidhan Ribeiro (Bangladesh) were among the judges.
Bidhan Rebeiro said, "I have seen a total of 37 films in thirteen days. Also had regular meetings. I had to be busy with various kinds of work including communication. The red carpet event started at 3 pm, announcing the name of the movie to be screened later that evening. Judges visited 9 halls and watched the movies as per schedule. After finishing, all the judges discussed those movies at the end of the day."
We asked if watching foreign films reminded him of Bangladeshi films and what is the difference?
Bidhan Rebeiro said, "Foreign filmmakers are comparatively rich in terms of making films and it has put them ahead. When we started working as a jury, we were told by the Cannes that you don't have to pay attention to technical matters. Because these movies have crossed that phase. You have to pay attention to how a director has differentiated himself through his film on a particular topic and so we worked on that. However, if anyone wants to make a good film in Bangladesh, they have to bring in producers and technicians from outside the country."
Before concluding, we asked why he chose film criticism as a career choice.
He said, "I've been passionate about movies since my days as a student at Notre Dame College. A documentary was made on the occasion of its 50th anniversary in 1999. So, our teacher asked me to give a voiceover. I begged him to let me hang around throughout the whole process, which he allowed. My interest grew from watching the shooting and editing process."
Finally, we asked him if he had any plans to make a film? He said that he wasn't thinking about it right now. "Most film critics in the world have only criticised movies all their lives but never made movies. Nonetheless, many have made films as well. Hence, I have not yet made that decision."