After much anticipation, the premier screening session of the Women's Lens International Short Film Festival (WLISFF) was held at Alliance Française in Dhaka on June 17. The event was organised by the Dhaka University Film Society (DUFS) in collaboration with the EMK Center.
WLISFF is a platform dedicated to showcasing the various dimensions and styles of filmmaking among women filmmakers from all around the world and celebrating the growing arena of independent women filmmakers.
Regardless of another pandemic-ravaged year, a tremendous number of submissions of short films demonstrated the tenacity of film as a medium and more importantly, the indomitable human spirit. A total of 86 films from over 30 different nations were submitted for screening. From that, the top ten films, selected by the jury, were screened at the event. The top-ten films were from India, Russia, South Africa, Portugal, Iran, and of course, Bangladesh.
A panel discussion also took place at the event discussing the role and struggle of women behind the camera. The topic of the panel discussion was 'Women, War and Cinema: Rethinking the State Narrative,' which was discussed by filmmaker and media activist Shameem Akhtar and Mahmud Hasan Kayesh, lecturer of Department of Media and Communication at Independent University of Bangladesh.
This has been the country's very first film festival devoted completely to the women behind the camera, with the purpose of giving them a stage on which to showcase their potential. With the slogan 'Her Voice, Her Vision' this festival aimed to create a cross-cultural platform for a wide range of creative female filmmakers from Bangladesh and abroad.
Women have been a crucial facet of films, be it behind the camera or in front of the lens. However, the contributions of women in this field have not been appreciated as much as they should be.
Dhaka University Film Society took this opportunity to pay an homage to the women behind the camera with the films' screenings and fruitful panel discussions. Such events should be held more often so that everyone can realise how women have and still do impact the field of filmmaking on a daily basis.
The writer is an undergraduate student at the University of Dhaka