‘Nonajoler Kabbo’ wins Hiralal Sen Award 1428 for Best Feature Film

After a hiatus of two years, the five-day Amar Bhashar Cholochitro Film Festival 1428, organised by the Dhaka University Film Society (DUFS), concluded yesterday.

From February 22 to February 26, after five days of film screenings and interactive sessions, the event came to an end with the ceremony for the Hiralal Sen Award.

The closing ceremony was held in the Teacher-Student Centre (TSC) auditorium, attended by renowned filmmaker and Freedom Fighter Nasir Uddin Yousuff and President of Federation of Film Societies of Bangladesh Lailun Nahar Shemi, as chief guests. Filmmakers Rezwan Shahriar Sumit and Humayra Bilkis, actress Dilruba Hossain Doyel and other notable film personalities were present during the ceremony.

“Nonajoler Kabbo” (The Salt in Our Waters) won the Hiralal Sen Award 1428 in the Best Feature Film category at the Amar Bhashar Cholochitro Film Festival.

“Rehana Maryam Noor”, “Laal Moroger Jhuti”, “Chandrabati Kotha” and “Raat Jaga Phool” were also nominated for this award.

The director of the film, Rezwan Shahriar Sumit, took to his Facebook to announce the achievement by posting a few snaps from the event, a poster of the film and a photograph of the award.

“Hats off to the organisers of this year’s event! You guys are incredible. I understand how challenging it is to put on a festival like this, yet you do it with such enthusiasm and professionalism,” read his caption. “An interesting side note: My first ‘finished’ short film was screened at a Dhaka University Film Society event at Goethe-Institut Bangladesh fifteen years ago. That film was purely an experiment for me, I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but the encouragement I received was invaluable.”

“Nonajoler Kabbo” was released theatrically in November last year, after garnering much appreciation at the screenings in the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference (COP26), Busan International Film Festival, London International Film Festival, and Kolkata International Film Festival.

The film features Fazlur Rahman Babu, Shatabdi Wadud, Titas Zia, and Tasnova Tamanna, among others.

The Best Story award was given to Nurul Alam Atique’s Liberation War-based drama, “Laal Moroger Jhuti” (2021). Directed by N Rashed Chowdhury, “Chandrabati Kotha” won for Best Cinematography and Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s “Rehana Maryam Noor” was awarded for Best Editing.

“Truly it was a struggle — from the financing to the difficulties we faced on post production, and then the pandemic. This film is the result of our hard work and struggle. It feels incredible to receive such an award, here in our own country,” said Rezwan Shahriar Sumit, director of “Nonajoler Kabbo”, at the ceremony.

“Living with the fishermen for two months, immersing ourselves with the lives of the seashore dwellers — we wanted it to be as authentic as possible.”

The film’s shooting was completed in 2018 but it faced delays during post production.

The director, who is also an alum of Dhaka University, stressed on the importance of such film festivals for the independent film scene.

“The finance and distribution of independent films is quite a challenge in our country. Organisations like DUFS and events such as this one facilitates independent filmmakers to reach a larger audience,” he added.

“As a child of a Freedom Fighter, it is a great honour to be awarded for a film which depicts our Liberation War,” said Dilruba Hossain Doyel, after receiving the award for Best Story.

Director Nurul Alam Atique expressed his delight regarding the young audience that came during the film screenings.

“From the decorations to the props on the stage, we tried to keep everything as environmentally friendly as possible,” said Al Sahariar Ziddne, the president of DUFS. “All the credits for the success of this event goes to the members.”

With a vision to pay tribute to the Martyrs of the Language Movement and Bangla cinema, this annual festival by DUFS was brought to an abrupt halt as the world was seized by the global pandemic. The return of the festival garnered much excitement as people of all ages flocked the TSC premises everyday during the event.

A total of 19 feature-length films and one documentary were screened this year. After each screening, film enthusiasts participated in interactive sessions with the crew members present. The festival also included an exhibition of life-sized posters of Bangla films throughout history, from both Bengals.

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