Progressive Bengali Network

Event Information:
Muktir Gaan
(Song of Freedom)
(Bengali, w/English subtitles)

October 18, 2002
7:00 pm

Room 219
Dwinelle Hall
UC Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

Cost: Free

3rd I
Friends of South Asia

Muktir Gaan (Song of Freedom)
October 18, 2002

Come join us for a free screening of Muktir Gaan (Song of Freedom), an award-winning film about the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Muktir Gaan is a documentary film which explores the impact of cultural identity on the liberation war, where music and song provided a source of inspiration to the freedom fighters and a spiritual bond for the whole emerging nation. A group of Bengali cultural activists travel through refugee camps and battle zones performing rousing songs which capture the essence of the Bengali nation. Directors Catherine and Tareque Masud used original footage by American film-maker Lear Levin, as well as other archival footage collected from the UK and India.

Twenty-five years in the making, this film began with the ambition of Lear Levin, an American filmmaker, to make an epic documentary in the tradition of Robert Flaherty on the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. Levin and his crew came across a troupe of travelling musicians, members of a larger cultural movement known as the Bangladesh Mukti Sangrami Shilpi Sangstha, who were traversing the zones of war singing songs of struggle to inspire the guerrilla cadres and the millions of refugees. Levin, who did not know any Bengali, followed this troupe and captured the spirit of the Bengali people through 20 hours of beautifully photographed footage. However, he became so caught up in filming that he returned to the US only just as the war was coming to an end. he was unable to get funds to complete the project and for 20 years, the footage lay in storage in his basement in New York.

In 1990, the directors tracked Levin in New York with the intention of making a film based on his footage. It took five years to complete the film, which supplements Levin's footage with archival material on the major events of the war from around the world.

Director Tareque Masud's latest film, Matir Moina (The Clay Bird), was featured at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. It's currently banned in Bangladesh, and the center of a major censorship battle.

Read Naeem Mohaiemen's review of the film.

(Blurbs from Himal Magazine's Film South Asia, Arts World Wide, and the BBC)