Smith Alumna’s Film Screens at Northampton International Film Festival
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 15:09
The 16th annual Northampton International Film Festival will be returning this October, showcasing a diverse selection of films from around the world. The film festival, which will be housed in Northampton’s Academy of Music, will encompass different genres of film, including full length films, short films and documentaries. The festival has made an effort to bring in films from different areas of the world, from Ireland to Boston to Bangladesh. Among the films to be screened is the Bengali film Meherjaan directed by Smith alumna Rubaiyat Hossain ‘03.
This year, the film festival changed its name from the “Northampton Independent Film Festival” to the “Northampton International Film Festival.” The move was done to better describe the festival’s new purposes: focusing on diversity and broadening their scope from only independent films. The Northampton International Film Festival’s mission and objective aims are to “[showcase] independent film from around the world,” “[celebrate] the art of filmmaking,” “[inspire] artistic development” and “[encourage] reflection through film.”
The festival includes “Dreaming Nicaragua”, a documentary about Nicaragua; “Sleeping Dogs,” a drama/psychological film from an Irish director; and a fantastical drama called “Dreams Awake.” Like other film festivals in Northampton, the Northampton International Film Festival’s schedule indicates an attempt at attracting wider audiences by offering a diversity of films. The head of the organization for the Northampton Independent Film Festival, Russ Peotter, once said about the difficulty in attracting audiences to festivals, “In Northampton, it’s hard to draw audiences unless they are very hyper-specific, very specialized, and in a film festival, we try to get a wider audience.”
One of the films spotlighted in the festival is a politically debated and controversial 2011 Bangladeshi film called “Meherjaan.” Advertised as a “film about loving the Other,” the film follows a Bangladeshi woman who falls in love with a Pakistani soldier in the midst of the 1971 Liberation War, a relationship that would be considered politically forbidden by both societies. “History has to be told from the voices of every other person that was left out … the old woman, the man who didn’t fight,” said Hossain on the importance of exploring different viewpoints. Hossain’s film was allowed to screen in Bangladesh after having many scenes censored; shortly after, however, the film was removed from Bangladeshi cinemas due to audiences disliking the anti-nationalism theme. The film will be celebrated at the Northampton International Film Festival, whose Web site interprets the film as “[critiquing] certain pitfalls of nationalism that create conditions to justify war” and “an aesthetic solution to war and violence.”
The films chosen for the film festival were decided upon by a panel of film industry experts. Audiences and the jury will consider the films for awards in the categories of “Best Short,” “Best Documentary Short,” “Best Feature,” and “Best Documentary.” Patrons have the option of attending an opening night gala party after the opening night feature film; the event will conclude with a closing awards ceremony.
The Northampton International Film Festival will take place at the Academy of Music Oct. 5 – 7.