Concept of Pitching is Working in Our Contex- Mofidul Haque
Concept of Pitching is Working in Our Contex- Mofidul Haque


mofidul haque 3



Tell about your thoughts about documentary film and film culture in Bangladesh. What kind of potentiality can you assume for the documentary film in Bangladesh?

Mofidul Haoque: The connection of the Liberation War Museum with Dhaka DocLab started in a very interesting way. One may find it very intriguing what  Museum has to do with filmmaking initiatives, especially a Museum like Liberation War Museum, it's about memory, preserving memory, collecting documents and artefacts, but also along with collection and preservation  is a very important part of our activity. As now we are celebrating the 27th anniversary of our establishment and disseminating means spreading the message to the younger generation and you can do It in many different ways and film is always a very strong medium for disseminating the message, especially the documentary films. So Liberation War Museum right from the beginning has aspired to promote the documentary films on our history & struggle for independence, The History of Emergence of Bangladesh, a 22 minutes documentary film made from different archival footage of that period was made by Tanvir Mokammel and we  show this film especially to the students who often visit the Museum from their education institutions.We can easily feel the impact a documentary film can create on the mind of the younger generation.

It has been quite some time since the Liberation War Museum got involved in documentary film production, pitching, funding, organising festivals and workshops, and other events. What are the objectives behind this initiative, and how was it started?

Mofidul Haoque: The museum  initiated a documentary film festival we call it International Docfest for films on liberation and human rights, it was a long name, but now we have shortened it.  Manzare Hassin Murad was the first director of the festival and he also did a workshop for the young filmmakers to encourage them in making documentary films on the history of our Liberation War. Later, we found that documentary film can be a very powerful tool for presenting & preserving history. Although, it started in a very small way at Segunbagicha,, but I still remember that Rabiul Hossain my co-trustee, and a versatile man, he told me that this festival is a very small festival but I can tell you Mofidul that this is going to be a very big event and that really happened over the years.

How did the Liberation War Museum start collaboration with Dhaka Doclab? How does this collaboration help documentary filmmakers, especially young filmmakers?

Mofidul Haoque: The founders of  Dhaka DocLab, Nasiruddin Yousuff Bacchu, Tareq Ahmed and others, are also very closely attached to the Museum. They started this forum in 2017 at Shilpokola Academy.. Since  we have moved into this new premises in 2017 and later I thought, why don’t they utilise this wonderful location for holding their international forum.

The objective behind establishing this permanent structure of LWM is that it should be a Museum of international standards with all kinds of facilities. We have the premises, the lobby, and an open air theatre. an auditorium for 300 people, the seminar hall and  other places also where film screening can be organised or a discussion forum can be held.

 So we discussed all these with DDL  and told them,why not move the Dhaka DocLab to the Liberation War Museum? And that's how it started. And as I said that it also has benefited both of us. Dhaka DocLab because it's a very special program. And the filmmakers when they gather here Especially those who are coming from abroad, the filmmakers, producers, industry leaders,  who  are involved with different film festivals,production companies, television channels.

All these important people came to Bangladesh for DDL and in 2018 they actually did this program at the Liberation War Museum. We also found, this is a great opportunity for us to tell the history of our liberation struggle to concern the people who have the artistic capability and also the creative mind. They were all very impressed by visiting the galleries of the Museum &  the different activities which the museum is holding. We actually formed a very interesting bondage with those people who joined the lab. Particularly, I would definitely mention Mr. Nilotpal Majumdar who was leading the Kolkata DocEDGE . And he was really impressed by visiting the Museum and the activities that we are doing. So that's how the collaboration started with DDL. But it's a partnership and it's an annual event now for both Dhaka DocLab and Liberation War Museum.

How has DDL created an impact on the Documentary film Industry in Bangladesh?

Mofidul Haoque: Since that time, every year we have hosted Dhaka Doclab.  There was a gap in this span due to pandemic.. But every time we could feel that Dhaka Doclab is getting more and more organised, also attracting younger people to get engaged in a very professional way.

Documentary filmmaking is not an easy job, and you have to go through a very hard struggle to learn the craft & art and also to learn how to tell the story. And not only that, and finally also how to promote your film in the relevant circuits. Dhaka DocLab brings the relevant people to Bangladesh and their interaction with the younger generation of filmmakers.  I think the whole concept of pitching, then rewarding a few of the good proposals,is working.And this is I think that this is maybe for the first time that younger filmmakers,  documentary filmmakers got the opportunity to get connected with documentary filmmaking in different parts of the world,  in the major festivals or major persons who are in the circuit. So it has actually internationalised the whole concept of filmmaking. And I think filmmaking, the language is international, and anybody who is making a film in a particular place, a particular country, a particular time, it's always going to be an international artistic endeavour. So I would say Dhaka DocLab is creating the actual opportunity, which is very difficult to get in a country like ours. Dhaka DocLab along with Kolkata DocEdge  are becoming a major hub in South Asia for documentary filmmakers.

How do the Museum and documentaries merge, creating attention for an international audience? What is the long-run impact of that?

Mofidul Haoque: Well, the role of the Museum is changing and now it is the ICOM the International Council of Museums they are meeting at their conference in Prague in August they are redefining the Museum so Museum can be offered many different activities, many different ways that Museum can be established and also it has now been said that we want to go to Museum without walls we have a structured Museum but it should be very much open and accessible to others so virtual Museum is also one thing that came up strongly during the COVID period and also how the message of the Museum can be taken to the wider audience and here I  think documentary, documentation has a very important role to play and as a Museum we also have a connection with other such initiatives. I will particularly mention the name of Shoah Foundation of  University of Southern California, which was founded by Steven Spielberg, they do great documentation. And so documentation is not only about making documentaries but documentation creates the possibility of making many kinds of documentaries. The  Museum is also doing audio visual documentation and it is very much part of the Museum activity. But documentary filmmaking is a creative challenge and I think that we also have to overcome the traditional outlook. That is what the Museum can do or should do and also the audience and the activist or younger generation also should take the Museum as a platform of opportunity.

Does the Museum have any policy to grant funds for documentary making? Tell us how many films are produced by the Museum so far and the impact of those films.

Mofidul Haoque: As a Museum, our primary task is collecting artefacts, documents, and memories. And as I said, memorisation brings forward the other responsibilities. One of the major responsibilities of the nation is justice.That is the history of brutal atrocity, genocidal crimes, and the issue of justice. And we as a Museum contribute in a different way because we have the documents and archives, and in many ways, we contributed to the international crimes tribunal of Bangladesh and also bringing in scholars from other countries to Bangladesh and getting them introduced to our justice process and also as a corollary or as part of such activity. 

Documentary filmmaking has a very important role to play. We all know that in 1971, great documentaries were made during the struggle, and those still inspire us from our own filmmakers and from outside. So as a Museum, we also feel that there should be more documentary films made on Bangladesh history, its relevance, and its significance. And from our own film festival initiative, we have promoted a few filmmakers, but we have our own resource constraints. And we also did some commissioned work promoting our activity, especially with the younger generation when they collect eyewitness accounts of history from the senior members of their families. We have made documentaries on one or two of those stories.

So those are for the purpose of the Museum And also for documentation. And we also feel that there are a lot of events and a lot of freedom fighters who are actually passing away. And it's very important to have their memories documented. And we cannot do much about that, but we think that the nation should look into it. That is how this can be done and preserved and archived. But for the Museum, we could not make many films, but we think it is about 15 to 18 films, documentary films that we have supported or we have made by ourselves.  For the last three or four years,  the Liberation War docFest. We are also in collaboration with DDL. We have also introduced the pitching session And Nilotpal Majumdar has taken charge of it. He is delivering his support without any fee or anything. So his involvement, he is also bringing others into this effort. So every year we are having this  Liberation War Museum docfest  And we are selecting one film and supporting another. So now we are very much, I will say that professionally engaged in it. And the festival also has become a big festival for documentary filmmakers on human rights and liberation. And this time here we got more than 1500 submissions. So the preview was a very difficult job, but young volunteers have done that because for the last two years, three years, this festival was both an online festival and this time it was online and virtual.

So this is the way the Museum is trying to promote documentary filmmakers. But I would say that most importantly, the Museum can actually contribute to young filmmakers Because we have a lot of archival resources, a lot of stories, a lot of evidence and documents or other objects. So, filmmakers who are interested to look into the history and bring it up in a new way, in a minute way, we are ready to render our support to them.

Future thoughts/planning?

Mofidul Haoque: Well with Dhaka DocLab I am just observing how it is growing and that's very inspiring Dhaka DocLab brings much younger filmmakers into the net into the process. But one great downside for us is that we do not have much opportunity to show the documentary films and I think this is a big challenge that people are facing many challenges in making the film. But after making a film if it cannot be shown to the audience, I think Tareque Masud and others have taken an initiative at that time taking the projector and the film and going to the audience. Now with the new technology, the opportunities have increased and become easier. But we have to make the property initiative, just put a film on YouTube and then people will see it will not happen like that. How to make a movement and how to also do it creatively then not only showing the film but also carrying on the discussion or other kind of activity centring the film. So a new initiative is very much needed and there are a lot of good films being made but nobody has or not many have seen those films. That's really a very tragic scenario. So I think this is one area where one should concentrate and we can also think about how we can contribute to this process. But this should be a very strong social initiative.

Well, when you receive the social initiative it means that there should be many kinds of initiatives like let a thousand flowers blow. So it cannot be one single initiative which will solve the problem in a big way. We from Liberation War Museum have now established a film centre because a lot of volunteers get involved with our film festival and we also get a lot of interesting people from Dhaka DocLab and now with the COVID scenario over we are thinking that every month we can film show here we have the facilities and also others who have made films on liberation war or on our history. They can also approach us if they want to do a screening. We are here to offer them our cooperation and services. So in many ways, we have to think about it and the Museum can be    part of this initiative. We can say from our site that we are here ready to get others to use the platform in an effective and meaningful way.

Mofidul Haque, Trustee, Liberation War Museum, Bangladesh. This interview was taken by Tahrima Khan and Reepon Kumar Das, Two alumnus of Dhaka DocLab.