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Young Bangladeshi filmmaker wins award in Amsterdam

© UNICEF Bangladesh\Salma Siddique
Raihan, 15, proudly holds his prizes after his one-minute video won its category of the Stranger Festival
By Arifa S. Sharmin

DHAKA, Bangladesh, 27 January 2010. On the screen, the hand of an adolescent boy tries to draw on the blank paper. But each time he tries he fails; he is unable to draw the picture that he wants to.

In the next frame, a mature hand comes forward and holds the boy’s hand. After a few minutes of struggle they draw a beautiful picture together - a lush green landscape of Bangladesh, a river and a bird.

This is the story of the one-minute video made by Ahmmed Raihan, a 15-year-old boy from Bangladesh.

When this video was projected at the Stranger Festival in Amsterdam along with five others, Raihan did not imagine that his name would be announced as a winner for the “Insight Out” category of the One Minute Video contest.  It took some time for him to realize, when Imran, who came with him from Bangladesh, hugged him, amidst a huge round of applause.

The judges for this category were Ferenc Molodvanyi (Hungary) and Stefano Doojies (Netherland). According to them, Raihan’s Canvas was considered to be more subject-oriented, depicting the connection between the upper and lower classes of society despite all differences. The judges also liked the fact that the video portrayed the joyous and colourful side of a child’s mind.

 “I did not expect that I would get an award, this is my first one-minute video, which I made as part of a training programme organized by UNICEF, in June last year. It was a big challenge to tell a story in one minute. But after receiving training, I realized that it is possible, and finally, I made this production”.

Earlier this month, his film was also broadcast at the opening ceremony of the 3rd International Children’s Film Festival, in the presence of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other special guests.

Story behind Canvas
The young artist explains that the film aims to depict the ‘generation gap’. “This idea came from my personal experience. We, young people, always dream to do something extraordinary, something different, but often our wishes do not get any shape.  On the other hand, older people always want us to follow their orders.  This puts us in a conflicting situation as we do not want to understand each other. If elder people came forward and extended their help, then we could make a huge difference.”

The award-winning one-minute video is a true reflection of Raihan’s thought process. The judges honoured Raihan by giving him a crest and a video camera. No doubt, this precious gift will help Raihan to realize his dream to make films. “Now I have my own camera, I can make films without depending on others.”

Big responsibilities
Raihan lives with his family in suburbia in Dhaka city, capital of Bangladesh, and is the third of seven children. This young boy and his elder brother have to support their family as their father has retired from work. Raihan works as a computer graphics man in a computer shop, plus he is also pursuing his grade 10 education through the Open University distance learning programme on the weekend.

Besides his daily routine, young Raihan often made time to learn something new. As part of his quest, he received script writing training from the Children Television Foundation of Bangladesh (CTFB) in 2007 and became a member of the organization.

Allowing adolescents to express themselves
In line with the spirit of participation embodied in the Convention on the Rights of Child, UNICEF organized training in Bangladesh in June 2009 in producing one-minute videos, in partnership with the European Cultural Foundation and the One Minute Foundation based in the Netherlands. Like Raihan, a total of 17 children from different socio-economic backgrounds expressed their thoughts and imaginations through the video lens, producing 17 one-minute videos. “It was a challenge for us to express our thoughts in one minute. Through the training we have learned the skills, now we can do it ourselves,” said Chaiti, one of the participants.

With the aim of spreading the techniques of producing these extremely short videos among adolescents, UNICEF in partnership with CTFB organized a second batch of training for another 20 adolescents in October, where Raihan worked as an assistant facilitator.



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