Film Archive collects, preserves and exhibits prints of films, the background material and documents of films, photographs, trailers, censor certificates, disks, cassettes, tapes, screenplays, posters and banners. The archive also publishes magazines, books, catalogues and bulletins. It undertakes research and surveys and organises seminar on film, functions and special ceremonies related to film. The Federation of International Film Archive and UNESCO extend assistance to archives of every country for preserving moving of the respective nations.
Bangladesh Film Archive was set up in 1978 as an organisation under the Ministry of Information. The designation of its chief executive is the Director General (earlier the designation was Curator). At the time of its foundation, the organisation was named the Bangladesh Film Institute and Archive (BFIA). It started to function at a rented house in the dhanmondi area of dhaka city led by its first curator was AKM Abdur Rouf. In 1984, the Institute was merged with the National Mass Communications Institute to form Bangladesh Film Archive with the status of an independent institution. It was shifted to a make shift space of the Gana Bhaban area of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in 1986 and to Mohammadpur area in 1998. Later in 2008, it was relocated again in the Shahbag Broadcasting House. The government has a plan to shift it to the Agargaon in its own building.
Functions of the Film Archive are: to collect and preserve prints of films and mementos like screenplays, still pictures, books of stories and songs for films, advertisement designs, posters, banners, festoons and books and journals; record important historical events and other developments; conduct research and surveys on different aspects of social life with the help of visual techniques; and educate the masses through films. The list of collected and preserved films and mementos in the Film Archive up to May 2009 include prints of 551 feature films, negatives of 180 feature films, 182 short films, 995 documentary films, 240 news reels, 3,168 books and booklets, 14,575 still photographs, 6,681 posters, 1,986 screenplays, 287 books of songs, 1,365 summary stories, 640 still photographs on film festivals, 12,200 paper cuttings, 9,887 magazines, and 3,238 miscellaneous items.
The preserved films in Bangladesh Film Archive include Sukumari, the first short film (silent), produced at Dhaka in 1927-28, The Last Kiss, the first feature film (silent) produced in 1931, Mukh O Mukhosh (1956), the first Bangla feature film, Asia, the first film produced in FDC, copies of cine and cultural magazines like Cinema, Rupchhaya, Udayan, Shandhani, Mridanga, Chalantika, Chitrali, Ramna and Chitrakash, a reel of the film Dhruba, of which kazi nazrul islam was one of the directors and in which he himself was an actor, and Debdas directed by Promathesh Barua. Prints of the world famous movies The Battleship Potemkin, October, The Mother, The Wages of Fear, Rashomon, Pather Pachali, and Apur Shangshar and films on the war of liberation of Bangladesh.
The Archive organises exhibitions, discussion meetings, seminars and courses on film reviewing. The first film appreciation course was conducted in August 1981. The syllabi of these short-term and theoretical courses include the history of films, criticism, aesthetics, editing, screenplay and art direction. Noted alumni are Morshedul Islam (produced films titled Agami, Dhaka, Dipu No. 2, Dukhai), Tanvir Mokammel (Huliya, Nadir Nam Madhumati, Chitra Nadir Padey), Tarque Masud (Muktir Gaan, Muktir Katha, Matir Moyna, Adamsurot, Runway) and Akhtaruzzaman (Princess Tina Khan, Poka Makoder Gharbasati), who are prominent among the country's serious filmmakers.
The Film Archive organised a number of film festivals and noted among them are the Indian Film Festival (1984), SAARC Film Festival (1985), German Film Festival (1987), The Soviet Union Film Festival (1988) and the Chinese Film Festival (1991). Eminent film personalities from different countries visit the Film Archive and many of them deliver lectures at seminars and workshops' organised by it. [Anupam Hayat]