The eighth edition of Dhaka Literary Festival kicked off on Thursday at Bangla Academy with an enthusiastic attendance of local and foreign authors, intellectuals, experts and literature enthusiasts.
A few hundred attended the inauguration ceremony of the three-day festival at Abdul Karim Sahitya Bisharad Auditorium where local dancers welcomed the guests with riveting kathak recitals.
The three-day festival will feature over 90 sessions on literature, history, contemporary issues, media and translation, women and human rights issues and others.
Cultural affairs minister Asaduzzaman Noor, accompanied by DLF directors, Indian filmmaker Nandita Das and American Pulitzer winning novelist Adam Johnson, inaugurated the three-day literary extravaganza.
‘It is an immense pleasure to see how Dhaka Lit Fest has grown in volume, scope and appeal. In the last few years, the festival has become a platform to celebrate literature, art and culture. The festival is an embodiment of secularism and enlightenment and I hope the festival will ignite young minds,’ said Asaduzzaman Noor.
DLF directors K Anis Ahmed, Sadaf Saaz and Ahsan Akbar welcomed local and foreign writers, artistes and literature enthusiasts at the festival.
‘Since 2011, Dhaka Lit Fest has been celebrating words and ideas. It brings the best of world literature and renowned writers to Bangladesh and puts Bangla literature on global map,’ said Sadaf Saaz, director-producer of the festival.
Another director K Anis Ahmed, in his introductory remarks, said, ‘the festival celebrates freedom of speech and advocates human and women rights. From DLF, we would request the government to review the Digital Security Act which goes against freedom of speech.’
Indian acclaimed filmmaker Nandita Das, in her speech, requested all to stand in support of internationally renowned Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam, who is now behind bars, and called for his immediate release.
Following the inauguration, the audience enjoyed the opening plenary named Post-America Future where writers and journalists from America and outside debated on the role America in world culture and literature and what the post-American future will look like.
In another session, Commonwealth award winning Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif spoke on Pakistani and world politics and the power of media and literature in the contemporary world.
In the afternoon, Dhaka audience enjoyed the Bangladesh premiere of Nandita Das’ acclaimed biopic Manto, featuring the life of celebrated Urdu writer Saadat Hossain Manto.
The two-hour biopic Manto, which had its premiere in the last edition of Cannes film Festival, follows the last eight or so years (from 1946 to 1955) of the famous Urdu short story writer.
The opening day also featured sessions on fiction, publication, music, poetry, creative writing and journalism where local and foreign writers, experts and artistes participated.
The next two days of the festival will also offer various engaging sessions where foreign writers, artistes and experts like Adam Johnson, Philip Hensher, Richard Beard, James Meek, Annie Zaidi, Tilda Swinton, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Manisha Koirala, Garga Chatterjee, Mitali Bose Perkins, Courtney Hodell and others will speak on different topics.
Among local writers, researchers and experts Afsan Chowdhury, Anisul Hoque, Dr Anisuzzaman, Kaiser Haq, Shihab Shahriar, Kamal Chowdhury, Binayak Sen, Imdadul Haq Milon and others will participate in panels on Bangla literature and other issues.
Sessions like ‘Breaking Bad’ featuring talks by Indian filmmaker Nandita Das and actress Manisha Koirala, ‘Fearsome Future’ featuring Adam Johnson, ‘Appropriate Culture’ featuring Annie Zaidi, Jaishree Misra, Himanjali Sankar, ‘Me Too-er Jugey Bangali Somaj O Naritwa’ featuring local women speakers will be held today.
Other sessions like The Great Betrayal, Women and Wit, Library of Bangladesh, Secret History, Her Stories and others will also take place today.
Besides the panels, the festival offers cultural shows highlighting the treasures of local folk and traditional culture. A local music troupe is scheduled to entertain the audience today with a performance of kushan gaan, a traditional performing art form, while for children the festival will offer a circus show at the Nazrul Mancha.
Gemcon Literary Award will also be announced today.
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