Short films are short in duration but they carry eclectic impact. At the inception of motion pictures, films were short and as simple as framing some moments like a train arriving at a station or a man watering his garden. But this kind of short motion picture didn’t follow the aesthetics of a film. Nevertheless, these motion pictures ushered infinite possibilities of storytelling and creation of brilliant minds who took the concept of motion pictures and turned it into a splendid art form that reflects the reality or the surreal aspects. In the early stage of filmmaking, the filmmakers incorporated optimum level of reality into their films as they wished to tell a cohesive story through an array of narratives. They failed to reach a consensus on the appropriate length to tell a story, lengthy films were produced.
Jean-Luc Godard, the pioneer of the French New Wave Film Movement, theorized short film as “anti-cinema”. In a French film magazine Cahiers Du Cinema in 1958, he defined the short film as an impure art form that “does not have time to think” and is thus useful to the filmmaker as a kind of target practice.
Short films played a major role in the history of cinema. They were the stepping stones to making a full-length feature film. A large amount of short films has been produced in Bangladesh. Though most of them have been unsuccessful in attaining proper exposure, a few short films have acclaimed national and international recognition. Unfortunately, due to the lack of appropriate archiving system, majority of the short films is now extinct.
A short film is an incredible gateway for filmmakers to showcase their talents in storytelling. Morshedul Islam, a veteran filmmaker of Bangladesh, debuted as a filmmaker with a short film Agami. The twenty five-minute film won the National Film Award for Best Short Film. Mr. Islam also bagged the ‘Silver Peacock’ award for direction at the Indian International Film Festival in 1984. With only a single short film, the quintessential filmmaker grabbed the attention of national and international film critics.
Recently, short film revolution has picked up momentum in Bangladesh. A great number of Bangladeshi short films abound the online streaming sites which has established short film as a popular genre for entertainment by enthralling huge number of audiences. Bangladeshi audience adores short films for their short duration, simple delivery, pure entertainment and grave message.
Vicky Zahed, a filmmaker who has been captivating the audience by making trendy short films, thinks that short films aren’t that different than feature length films. “Short films transcend traditional modes of cinematic storytelling. In short films, we visually tell a story in small amount of time. If you consider the merit or weight of the stories we are recently working on, you can see that we can also make feature length films from these stories as well. But we make short films because the audience likes it that way,” the filmmaker opined. He continued, “In my perspective, short films are really challenging. Technically and aesthetically short films and feature films are the same, the only variation being the time length. So that, it is really important that a filmmaker makes short films before making feature length films. Short film can help filmmakers to learn about the various aspects of filmmaking.”
Social media and self-publishing online streaming platforms have made it easier for short filmmakers to publish their works. Vicky Zahed thinks these online platforms are the best pathways to reach the target audience. He cherishes the union with audience. He commented, “I feel great being connected with my audience. You get feedbacks from your audience; these platforms are for everyone and when they watch my film, they share their opinion on the film instantly. I really enjoy that connection with my audience.”
Film festivals are a great platform for the filmmakers and in Bangladesh, the festivals carry a special focus on short films, providing an alternative platform for young as well as well-known filmmakers to reach the audience without a feature film’s financial threat.
Raihan Rafi is one of the contemporary filmmakers of Bangladesh who has fruitfully made the transition from making short films to making big-budget full length films. His short film Ajab Baksho, a two-minute film won many accolades for portraying the harmful effects of television. Later, he produced other short films e.g Zahir and The Story of Ratan. At present, he is producing full length films. His debut as a director of full-length film occurred with Poramon 2 and the film received wide acceptance from audience. His latest film Dohon is also grabbing appreciation of audience and film critics.
For last few years, festivals like International Short and Independent Film Festival and International Children’s Film Festival conveyed short filmmakers fantastic opportunities for exposure. And these festivals are not confined to the capital only, rather they are spread over divisional cities e.g. Chattogram, Sylhet and Rangpur. Thus, people from all corners of the country have the opportunity to watch and critique films. Moreover, they can also learn and participate in producing films. Treasurer of Bangladesh Short Film Forum, Shariful Islam commented, “Festivals play an important role because it is similar to the theatrical release of a film.” “Festivals bridges established filmmaker and amateur filmmakers, it’s a community and it’s also a great opportunity for the young filmmakers to enter the community and be a part of it.”
Short films may also work as a strong platform for the dissemination of social awareness. Our young filmmakers who give strong messages in their films believe in such causes. Novera Hasan Nikkon is a filmmaker of this type who was inspired by Zahir Raihan and Tarek Masud. Novera blasted child marriage in her debut film Child Marriage: Let Me Breathe with my Dream. “In Bangladesh, child marriage is a strong social custom and has the fourth highest rate of child marriage in the world. Due to cultural setting, girls are regarded here as an economic burden and are expected to get married at very young age,” said Novera. “So, for millions of girls in Bangladesh, marriage very early and the damage follows them throughout their lives. This has been the way of lives of girls in Bangladesh from generations,” she added. More female filmmakers are coming to the scene who utilize the medium to convey their perspectives.
Creative filmmakers incorporate new and innovative techniques of storytelling in their short films through transcending the traditional boundaries of filmmaking and adding modern approaches to them. Nuhash Humayun dwells in experimenting in his works. From his short films Hotel Albatross to 700 Taka and Pizza Bhai, he had something new to offer to his audience.
These short films with big impact are rapidly shaping the future of the art form. Through wit, humour, hard-hitting realism or bold experimentation, these films are becoming a part of our daily life.