'Halda' wins Best Feature at SAARC Film Festival

‘Halda’ wins Best Feature at SAARC Film Festival

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Bangladeshi director Tauquir Ahmed’s ‘Halda’ took the Best Feature at the 8th SAARC Film Festival which concluded in Sri Lanka’s Colombo on Sunday.
The film also bagged the awards for Best Original Score, Best Editor and Best Cinematographer.Ahmed’s film ‘Oggattonama’ had won the Best Screenplay award at the festival last year.
A beaming Ahmed, an architect who became an actor and then a director, said that he had kept his passion for making films on crucial social and national issues by making ‘Halda’.
‘Oggattonama’ highlighted the woes of Bangladeshi migrant workers, centring on the return of an unidentified body from a Middle Eastern country.
‘Halda’ is the story of fishermen whose livelihoods dwindle as the river gets polluted by factories and other wastes.
The Halda River is the only natural carp breeding ground in Bangladesh and has been the place from where fertilized carp eggs are collected by local fisherman and egg collectors from April to June each year since time immemorial.
The pollution of the river leads to poverty, and soon, abject dependence on the rich to provide the fishermen some sustenance. Women from their families are forced into marriage with rich old men and are treated more as slaves than as wives.
The struggle of these people is the theme of Halda.
Ahmed’s film was met with a round of applause at the end of the screening.
After the screening the director took questions from the audience.
He said that initially the film was to focus on fish and fishermen but he soon realized that nobody would want to see a film focused solely on the topic and decided to introduce the situation of the women into the story.
Initially Ahmed had believed there was little scope for songs in the movie, but he eventually he included four or five songs so that the film had mass appeal.
“I didn’t want my producer to lose money. With the songs the film ran well and the producer did make money,” Tauquir said, smiling.
Asked whether his socially conscious films have had an effect on government policy, Tauquir said that the government had taken the Halda River situation seriously and plans to rid the river of pollution were implemented.
“This year the breeding was good. Halda is back to normal,” he said.
The other award winners from the ‘Halda’ team were: cinematographer Enamul Sohel, editor Amit Debnath, and music composers Tauquir Ahmed, Pinto Ghosh, and Sanzida Mahmood Nandita.
Tauquir Ahmed collected the awards on behalf of his colleagues.
Twenty six films were shown at the festival from May 22 to 26. There were no entries from Afghanistan and Nepal this year due to a lack of English subtitles, a SAARC Cultural Center official said, reports  bdnews24.com.

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