Bangladesh : Mobile Documentary Cinema on Democracy and Islam
IREX Europe is working with local counterparts on the Mobile Documentary Cinema on Democracy and Islam in Bangladesh project to produce a documentary video looking at key issues confronting youth in the country. The video will then be circulated to villages to spur discussion. The documentary will address the challenges in society that are driving youth away from democracy and toward extremism. It will also examine viewpoints on the compatibility of democracy and Islam and the values central to both, such as justice and equality. The documentary will be shown in villages nationwide and trained Bangladeshi facilitators will encourage discussion of the themes. This project is funded by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Global Opportunities Fund.
A portion of Bangladeshi youth is at risk of becoming effectively disenfranchised without opportunities to play their fullest part in society or fulfil their potential. Opportunities in education and employment are limited, as is practical access to democratic processes and media space. Some Bangladeshi youth (particularly in more remote, rural and socially conservative areas) therefore do not have the means to participate in the kinds of public debates which will shape their future and that of their country. Frustration at being placed outside of the system put these youths at risk of exploitation by those who urge extremism as a response.
IREX Europe is using mobile documentary cinema as a vehicle by which youth can explore and articulate for themselves and a wider audience alternatives to the extremist narrative. Film is a very popular medium in Bangladesh and a mobile cinema promises not only large audiences, but also the ability to reach more remote communities and to involve youth most at risk of disenfranchisement.
With this project, funded by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Global Opportunities Fund through the British embassy in Dhaka, a documentary is being developed through local youth discussion groups. The film, including youth opinions as well as those of respected local figures, intends to convey messages regarding Muslim views on the compatibility of democracy and Islam and the values central to both (for example, justice and equality.).
IREX Europe uses a participatory process of topic selection through discussion groups with Bangladeshi youth. IREX media and civil society experts work in cooperation with a Bangladeshi civil society partner organisation to co-ordinate the project on the ground, to organise discussion groups, and to identify the most appropriate subjects, thus ensuring the subject matter is relevant to the youth in question and that there is local ownership of the final product.
The documentary is intended to be linguistically apt and filmed in the local dialect to the extent possible. To further enhance local credibility, IREX plans on hiring two youth presenters, one male and one female, who are professional Bangladeshi TV or media figures with whom the youth have an existing relationship. The resulting documentary will be brought to villages for showings, followed by group conversations facilitated by trained discussion leaders.