Dhaka, Bangladesh. 21 January, 2011: Dr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC) in a special message for the Chobi Mela VI – International Festival of Photography at its inauguration today outlined the need for Institutions like the ICC to work together with people to ensure that the “world cannot be a place where crimes can be committed to gain power or to remain in power.” Citing the case of how one photograph of man being tortured at Abu Ghraib prison caught the attention of the world he said “pictures promote change, promote social change – that’s why this festival is so important. … we need photographers. … I’ll be delighted if you can produce pictures and send to us.” He stressed the need for humanity to be united and that photographers can play a key role in bringing about change.
The Chobi Mela VI – International Festival of Photography opened today at the National Theatre Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka. The festival themed “Dreams” was inaugurated by Nadia Baram, Dick Doughty, Laurence Leblanc, Mario Macilau, David de Souza and Kelly Hussey-Smith representing Latin America, North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia and the Pacific respectively. Speaking at the opening Dr. Shahidul Alam, Festival Director said “Our dream is that the power of arts, and the strength of our conviction will triumph. That the power of the gun will crumble before the power of reason and conscience. That through our photography and our story telling we will right the wrongs of oppression and tyranny.”
Reclaiming freedom for oppressed people was also the focus of a message by Omar Barghouti, Palestinian political analyst titled “A Palestinian Dream in Dhaka.” The message read out by Dolly Akhter, first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award Scholarships said “We dream not to escape reality but to remind ourselves that we can transform it, … We dream for without dreaming our resistance may lead to merely replacing our oppressors rather than extinguishing oppression.’”
The opening ceremony was preceded by the traditional colourful rally commencing from the National Press Club to the Shilpakala Acdemy.
This year, the festival also recognized contributions to photography and society made by three outstanding artists through the Chobi Mela Lifetime Achievement Awards. The posthumous award to Naib Uddin Ahmed of Bangladesh was received by his 10 year old granddaughter Nahrin Ahmed Naxshatra. Mrs Olufolake Bukola Ojeikere travelled from Lagos to accept the award on behalf of for her Father-in-law J. D. Okhai Ojeikere of Nigeria. Pedro Meyer of Mexico accepting the award said “If having developed and strengthened a deep seated friendship between Mexican and Bangladeshi photographers counts as ‘Life Time Achievement’ then indeed I feel there is merit to this award“. The award includes a scholarship given in the name of each recipient to a deserving student, to study for a year in Pathshala, The South Asian Media Academy.
The festival will be held till 3 February at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, The Asiatic Gallery of Fine Arts, The British Council, Drik Gallery, The Goethe-Institut and the Lichutola at Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka.
The inauguration at the National Theatre Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and the evening sessions of presentations at Goethe Institut (21-27 January) was broadcast live on Drik TV ( www.drik.tv).