Let cinema voice injustice against women
"Bangladesh witnesses 592 rapes in six months" - was the headline of a newspaper. With a heavy heart, I turned over the next page, where I found shocking news, "94% women are victim of sexual harassment." It has been very obvious and we all are 'okay' with it as if women were born to tolerate every injustice. Rallies, round table discussion are not lessening their predicament.
Putting the newspaper aside, I opened my Facebook and started scrolling down my newsfeed. My subconscious mind got attention when I found #istandforwoman movement, a different kind of movement through cinema.
Cinema could be part of a revolutionary movement and this is the perfect example. They are trying to say that a woman completes herself with her physical and mental strength. But, she has to believe in herself and fight against so called patriarchy.
I could not resist myself and immediately contacted Afzal Hossain Munna, the initiator of this movement.
In a conversation with Afzal, he says, "We see hashtags to challenge friends and create social awareness or movements on social media that has become common and more 'trendy' nowadays. However, the film movement using "social challenge trend" has started in Bangladesh on violence and discrimination against women. It has never been seen before anywhere in the world.
The time was 25 March of this year. Facebook newsfeed was getting flooded with the articles on how the Pakistani military violated Bangladeshi people especially women in 1971. On the other hand, there were news on rapes and harassments on women all over the country. That was enough for Afzal Hossain Munna. He became restless, changing the situation overnight was not in his hands but he had to do something. He had to protest. Now the question comes how to protest?
He was desperate to make people 'think'. Think to change the perception of treating women horribly for decades. As a film maker he believes in the power of film but at the same time he thought it will be more impactful if quantity of films would be made on same issue as an awareness or protest. Keeping that mind he made a video on this crisis and posted on Facebook.
Using "Let cinema be a revolutionary voice against injustice" as slogan and #istandforwoman, he challenged fellow filmmakers to make more short films on same issue. Some of his fellow directors supported him, mostly did not. But the movement did not stop.
Filmmakers like Khizir Hayat Khan, Jasim Ahmed, Raju Ahsan, Asif Khan, Saki Farzana, Ashikur Rahman, Pratik Sharkar joined the movement. Some of them managed some funds, some with their own money, some managed co-producers to make the short films. With the combination of short films and a PSA, the first stage of the film movement got declared. After premier, the whole team will screen their films all over the country. After these types of noncommercial screenings, short films will be released online to reach mass people.
As Afzal says, "All we want is to make a statement towards society as well as fellow film makers that the incidents (violence on woman) happening all around us has to be stopped. People should respect women and women should start believing that they are enough strong physically and mentally to stand for themselves. Let there be change of the cliché perception of male chauvinism. This is just the start of the movement, it will continue and spread.
More new filmmakers will join the movement; they will produce movies of short or full lengths. Film is the most powerful medium that can connect general people easily. Quality films with good contents along with strong messages are believed to bring that change in society. If foreign filmmakers are interested in this movement, they are welcome to be in the loop and make films in their own countries because this issue is happening worldwide. Cinema is a powerful medium and can have a great influence on people. That is why the slogan is "Let cinema be a revolutionary voice against injustice".
The casts are also participating in this movement. Nusrat Imrose Tisha the cast of "The Old man and the Girl" says, "Everyone should join in the movement. As an actor I am feeling very fortunate to be a part of this movement."