Film Festival an event for screening films, holding contests for awards, exchanging views on filmmaking through discussions and seminars and for displaying publications, posters and still photographs. The world's first international film festival was held at Venice in Italy in 1932. It was followed by such festivals in Moscow (1935), Cannes (1946), Berlin (1951), Calcutta (1952). Bangladesh has been taking part in international festivals abroad and also holding international, regional and national festivals at home. Bangladeshi films that won prizes in international festivals include Akhtar Jung Kardar's Jago Hua Savera (1959) at Moscow, Baby Islam's Tauha (1962) in Beirut and Subhash Dutt's Sutaranj (1965) at the Asia Festival at Frankfurt. Other films that won awards at international festivals were zahir raihan's Stop Genocide at Tashkent in 1972, Suryadighal Badi by Sheikh Neamat Ali and Masihuddin Shaker, at Mannheim in 1980, Tarek Masud's Matir Moyna in Berlin and Agami by Morshedul Islam at New Delhi. Bangladeshi films were also exhibited from time to time in the festivals of Venice, Cairo, Berlin, Cannes, Tokyo, Pnom Penh, Locarno, Tehran, Beirut, Calcutta, Bombay and Colombo. Some of those won prizes and some gained special commendations.
International, regional and national festivals have also been held in Bangladesh. In 1958, a children's film festival was held at Naz cinema hall in Dhaka. Later a German film festival was held in the city. The first international film festival at the government's initiative was held at Dhaka's Balaka cinema hall in 1965, where films from 12 countries were shown. Among these films were Andrzej Wajda's Tunnel (Poland), Ala Rene's Hiroshima Mon Amur (France), Satyajit Ray's Mahanagar (India). Also screened were The First Lady from USA, New Year's Sacrifice from China, Javaren from Czechoslovakia, Hamlet from USSR, God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun from Brazil, The Pacifics from Japan, Swallows Return to their Nest from Iran and Waterless Summer from Turkey.
In August 1965, the All-Pakistan Film Festival was held in Dhaka at the initiative of the Pakistan Producers Association. The programmes include film screening, prize giving, seminars, publication of an anthology of articles, exhibition of posters and cultural events. The 12 films from East and West Pakistan exhibited at the festival included Zahir Raihan's Kakhono Asheni and Kacher Deyal, Salahuddin's Suryasnan, khan ataur rahman's Anek Diner Chena, Rahman's Milon and Mustafiz's Talash. In the contest Kacher Deyal won as many as 9 prizes. The West Pakistani films included Shikwa, Heera Aur Patthar, Daman, Aulad, Kartar Singh and Firingi. Several festivals of films from specific countries were also held in Dhaka. Among them were festivals of Bulgarian films (1969), Egyptian films (1970), Polish films (1973), Indian films (1974), Rumanian films (1980) and Yugoslav films (1980).
The first officially organised international film festival in independent Bangladesh was held in Dhaka in March-April 1981. Thirty-five films from 15 countries were exhibited at this non-competitive festival. The films screened in the core section included Poland's The Conductor, Indonesia's Bau Hati Mama, Hungary's Magarok, India's Hirok Rajar Deshe, Japan's Port Arthur, Mongolia's Unforgettable Autumn, China's Little Flower and Bangladesh's Suryadighal Badi. The films shown in the information section included Sri Lanka's The Girls, India's Singhason and Kasturi and Pakistan's Miss Hongkong and Saika. There was a seminar also. Delegates from Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand and India took part. A French film festival was held at Madhumita cinema hall in Dhaka in 1982. A SAARC film festival was held in Dhaka in December 1985. Eleven Bangladeshi films were exhibited in it. The Indian films included Satyajit Ray's Paras Pathar and Ghare Baire and Mrinal Sen's Khariz.
In December 1988, a festival of short films was organised in Dhaka by the Bangladesh Forum for Short Films. The first festival drew 154 films from 25 countries. It included Nanuk of the North, Louisiana Story, Driktars, Coalface, Stop Genocide, Rabindranath and Nazrul Islam. It has since been held every two years and has already attracted the attention of the film lovers. The Rainbow Film Society has also been holding an international film festival in Dhaka since 1992. Bangladesh Children Film Society is organizing International Children Film Festival since 2008. Different film clubs, foreign diplomatic missions and the Federation of Film Societies hold festivals of foreign and local films from time to time. Several festivals of documentary and video films are also organised. All these festivals played an important role in enhancing the good experience of viewers and to inspire the promising and serious filmmakers. [Anupam Hayat]