Government grants should be properly utilized

Publish: 4:56 PM, September 12, 2023 | Update: 4:56 PM, September 12, 2023

Bangladesh Government introduced grants in 1976 to foster the growth of the film industry, offering support to artists, producers, and directors. Although this initiative experienced interruptions due to political reasons, it remains in effect today, sparking significant controversy.

In the fiscal year 2022-23, the government allocated a grant totaling Tk 13 crores and 90 lakhs to the film industry. This allocation encompassed 19 full-length movies, two of which centered on the liberation war, two designed for children, and one in the general category. Additionally, Tk one crore two lakhs were designated for six short-length movies and documentaries. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting published a list of the films that received this grant, outlining certain conditions for the beneficiaries.

To be eligible for these grants, full-length films must secure a minimum release in 20 theaters within the country and obtain censorship certification. Furthermore, films produced with this financial support must be made accessible for broadcast on Bangladesh Television upon request. The grant conditions stipulate that a producer cannot receive funding for two consecutive years but may reapply after a four-year gap. A producer can receive a maximum of three grants and must secure censorship certification for both full-length and short films post-production and release.

Over the years, numerous questions and controversies have emerged regarding the distribution of these grants. Some allege that individuals with substantial financial resources have been favored for filmmaking grants, regardless of their prior experience in film management. The selection criteria, the rationale behind grant nominations, and the overall process have raised concerns.

Despite these controversies, film remains a powerful and expensive art form, integrating various industries. It possesses the transformative potential to impact lives, akin to other forms of art. This artistic and influential essence is often absent in purely commercial or imitative films.

Recipients of these grants must submit their films to the Ministry of Information within nine months of receiving the grant check, with possible extensions granted for valid reasons. However, instances have been reported of grant recipients who received funding years ago but have yet to complete their film projects. Allegations persist that some individuals continuously seek grants for purposes unrelated to filmmaking, such as communication, lobbying, or political considerations, potentially misappropriating state funds.

It is essential to foster a more integrated foundation for filmmaking, and it is disheartening that some grant recipients lack this quality. Filmmakers should aspire to create timely productions that cater to the needs of their audiences while upholding principles of honesty and responsibility.