Though the government expressed its determination to revive the lost glory of the local film industry by initiating several projects, cinemas across the country are struggling to remain open and many cinema owners are shutting down their businesses due to poor attendance and financial losses.
The latest cinema to shut down its operation is Rajshahi-based cinema Upohar, which was the only cinema in Rajshahi city.
The city dwellers, intellectuals and cultural activists demonstrated protesting at the shut down decision on Monday in Rajshahi.
Though the owner of Upohar did not shared his reason for shutting down his cinema with New Age, the leaders of Bangladesh Motion Picture Exhibitors’ Association said as the government is yet to implement any of the pledges, the cinemas continue to count losses due to poor equipment and lack of renovation.
‘The government is yet to keep its commitment regarding renovation and digitisation of cinemas, as a result, the exhibitors are closing the cinemas that are facing losses due to poor equipment and lack of renovation’, said Iftekhar Uddin Nawsad, president of Bangladesh Motion Picture Exhibitors’ Association.
Bangladesh Film Development Corporation took an initiative to digitise 60 cinemas across the country. To implement the project, a 10-member committee, comprising hall owners and representatives from Bangladesh Film Exhibitors’ Association, Bangladesh Film Artistes Association and Bangladesh Film Directors Association, led by managing director of BFDC Amir Hossain was formed.
In an interview with New Age in June, Bangladesh Film Development Corporation managing director Amir Hossain said, ‘To attract film lovers to cinemas, BFDC will digitise cinemas across the country. The entire project will cost an estimated Tk 50 crore. Primarily, 60 cinemas will be digitised under the project Deshbyapi Digital Projection System Probatan’.
The selected cinemas have been divided into two categories namely A and B based on their locations and popularity. Each of the A category cinemas would get Tk 50 lakh while each of the B category cinemas would receive Tk 30 lakh.
The closed cinema in Rajshahi was selected under the project.
Though there were 1200 plus cinemas five years back, now around 250 cinemas are operating in the country, Bangladesh Motion Picture Exhibitors’ Association sources said.
‘The government officials’ apathy towards cinemas and corruption in this sector are responsible for today’s sorry state of local cinemas and as result cinemas across the country are slowly disappearing’, said Nawsad, also owner of Dhaka-based Modhumita Hall.
‘Besides, cinemas are struggling due to lack of quality films. Though a few quality films are released occasionally in the country, more quality films are needed to revive the scene. We need both good films and well equipped cinemas to bring viewers back to cinemas’, he added.
When asked about the progress of Deshbyapi Digital Projection System Probatan initiative, BFDC managing director Amir Hossain refused to make any comments.
‘The officials of Bangladesh Motion Picture Exhibitors’ Association know why exhibitors are shutting down cinemas. If owners want to shut down their halls what can we do’, he said.
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