Though filmmaking in indigenous languages in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), Bangladesh started in 1990s, the rate is very low and yet no film gets theatrical release in the country. So, there is no regular screening platform for those films and those films are not well introduced both in national and international arena. So, to be a platform for those films and to introduce them to the national and international media and to get introduced with national and international films, Hill Film Festival was incepted in 2014 in Rangamati. Later, the focus has shifted to the indigenous language films of the country where the scenario is same. And there is another story.
CINEMA FOR IDENTITY
In 2011, The Awami Leauge led government amended the constitution (15th Amendment) when many indigenous political parties and right activists claimed constitutional recognition for the indigenous peoples of Bangladesh. It is said that there are more than 50 indigenous communities live in the country with distinct language, culture and tradition. However, the government denied that claim to recognise them as indigenous and defined them as Khudro-Nrighosthi (small ethnic groups) in the constitution and established Bengali hegemony through the constitution. The term ‘Khuro-Nrighosthi’ is rejected by the indigenous political parties and, now and then, ‘Indigenous’ and ‘Khudro-Nrighosthi’ clash and deny each other in the political debate. When the government bars using the word Indigenous, political parties and right activists still claim for constitutional recognition. In this context, the festival used the tagline Cinema For Identity and encouraged to ask/search/claim/deny the identity politics and promoted filmmaking by their mother tongue to claim or search his/her/their identity.
Even though the reality is almost same now, the festival does not use any tagline now.
The festival is open to films of every languages and forms. It is arranged in a two years interval and the 6th edition of the Hill Film Festival is expected to happen in November 2023.