Of the 1400 or so cinema halls in the country just 250 could survive till date, according a report carried in a Bangla contemporary. Most of the existing ones are also in their death throes because business is at its worst for cinema halls right at this moment. While the film industry in the major cinema-producing countries is flourishing with one after another production breaking box-office records and earning unprecedented amount of profit, in Bangladesh it is in a moribund state. Not one quality film has been released so far in the new year. This has compelled the Modhumita Cinema Hall, once the country's most highly rated movie house, management to arrange a show of seven old films -all its own productions. Obviously, it is a desperate move and the choice is for crowd-pulling films, some of which are decades-old. The management is bitter that a few of the recent films on offer do not match the image of the prestigious hall and hence unfit for screening. If Modhumita is trying to stay in business like this, it is easy to imagine how the few others in the capital are struggling. The least said about the cinema halls in districts or elsewhere the better.
Then why does the film industry face a crisis like this? Managements of movie houses squarely blame producers and directors for not making films to the liking of the average Bangladeshi people, let alone of international standard. Some even accuse that meritless producers and directors have long established a monopoly hold on the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (BFDC). Only rarely can the genuine filmmakers take advantage of the facilities there. To the filmmakers of exceptional calibre willing to leave their mark on celluloid by producing what is called art film or alternative cinema the BFDC most of the time is off-limit. The cinema halls are compelled to screen the trashes unfit for refined taste. On the other hand, producers and directors accuse hall owners of ill management of film shows. They complain that the latter let them down.
The blame game, however, is not confined to the investors, directors and hall owners. Artistes in the industry are critical that the government is largely to blame because it does not extend the patronage this highly sophisticated art form deserves. With the change of time, the challenge is to produce modern films of exceptional theme and contents. Such arguments hardly hold water because a few exceptionally gifted and devoted young minds with limited budgets and facilities have proved their artistic capability by producing films of varying creative genres. Their films have been highly acclaimed and awarded prizes in international film festivals.
So the need is to change the mind-set. People with no merit for creativity but holding important administrative positions in the film division of the ministry concerned and the BFDC must be made to leave and those positions have to be filled by people capable of delivering the goods. An environment has to be created where those capable of thinking out-of-the-box get an opportunity to try their hands at films -artistic and novel. The industry on the verge of collapsing must be saved in this way.
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