Goethe Pop Up Festival
5th Hill Film Festival
Organised by Jum Film Forum at Khudro Nrigosthir Sangskritik Institute Rangamati
By Adit Dewan
From 4 to 6 November 2021, the 5th Hill Film Festival took place at the Khudro Nrigosthir Sangskritik Institute, the Cultural Institute in Rangamati. The festival focuses on films made in the indigenous languages of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) as well as other parts of the country. The Chittagong Hill Tracts are located in the southeast of Bangladesh, home to more than 10 indigenous communities with distinct cultures, languages, and traditions. In 1996, the first indigenous language film was produced in the region and many have followed. However, there has been no regular platform for screening those. Therefore, the Hill Film Festival was conceived. It has taken place four times in the Rangamati Hill District since 2014.
“This year we received three films, particularly made for this festival. All of them were made by indigenous filmmakers from the Chittagong Hill Tracts. This is a major achievement of the festival. A few aspiring filmmakers said to me that they are motivated to initiate their own projects now, since they are feeling in good company - which is another objective met for us,” states festival director and filmmaker, Adit Dewan.
How did the festival come into shape? When we joined university, we attended film screenings and festivals around our campus. We thought - why not a film festival in Rangamati. We found it necessary, as there are no film screening platforms for films made in the languages of the indigenous communities of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Plus, those films are not well introduced into the mainstream national or international media, though films have been made in CHT since the 1990s. […] Through this festival, the films and filmmakers can communicate.
Who are ‘we’? Turin Tanchangya, Promod Chakma, and I started the film house Heejek Felim [now Juma Film Forum], which organizes the festival so far. Later, many joined us. This time, we are trying to form a film club or society, which will organize the festival regularly.
How did you finance it? We managed primary funding by saving our money. We contacted our university seniors, job holders, and local business ventures to help us. […] From the beginning, Khudro Nrighosthir Sangskritik Institute provided us their auditorium, infrastructure, and administrative support. The prize money for the best short and best doc at the 4th festival was provided by Monogoreans, an alumni association.
What is the festival’s focus? Our focus is the films made in the languages of the native or indigenous communities of CHT, as well as films that are made by the languages of other indigenous/tribal communities of the country.
Why do you focus on language? You know, there are more than 50 communities based on language and ethnicity in the country.
The interview was conducted by Arifur Rahman (Goopy Bagha Productions Ltd.) for the Goethe Pop Up Festival documentary in August 2021.
Festival Team: Adit Dewan, Santua Tripura, Paddmini Chakma, Nonabi Chakma, Mittra Dewan