Muktir Kotha
(Words of Freedom)

This historic film tells the true story of musicians travelling through the refugee camps and zones of war during the Liberation War in 1971. The film blends documentary and fictional genres in a musical structure to tell the story of the birth of a nation and the ideals of secularism and tolerance on which it was founded.

The film makers combined footage shot by American film maker Lear Levin in 1971 with international archival material to create this unique film (dir Tareque & Catherine Masud, India 1995, 78 mins, Bengali, with English subtitles) plus Words of Freedom (Muktir Kotha).

In some ways a follow-up to and critique of Song of Freedom, the film follows a group of projectionists, who travelled Bangladesh from 1996-8, showing films about the 1971 war. These documentary images rekindled painful memories, prompting audiences to speak of the dreams they'd had for their country, their present frustrations and new expectations. At times the open-air projection spaces would be spontaneously transformed into a concert of liberation songs. Through these interactive shows, the 'teachers' who had come from the city to spread the spirit of the war through their films, came to 'relearn' the wider history of the liberation struggle from their audiences. The struggle did not end in 1971 as the people who risked their lives and sacrificed everything during the war were still living in poverty and despair. The harvest of the war they had fought was reaped by the rich.

Words of Freedom is a film about this continuing liberation struggle, an unwritten history which is not to be found in any textbook. The film documents the unheard stories of religious and ethnic minorities, women, and other marginalized people in their own voices. It is a record of the ways in which ordinary people fell victim to genocide, rape and other atrocities and also how they fought back with whatever means they had. It is a testament to the struggle still raging in the countryside, a struggle for a more just and democratic society that was the dream of liberation.


Catherine Masud is an American filmmaker who lives in Dhaka. She is a co-director of the film and of the television company Audiovision. She and her Bangladeshi husband, Tareque, are committed to making creative documentaries that project a different image of the people and issues of South Asia. Her credits include the following: Muktir Gaan, Voices of Children and In the Name of Safety. Catherine also works as a multi-media consultant where she pursues her special interests in computer-based audio, video and interactive media production.

Tareque Masud has been actively involved in the alternative film society movement since the mid-1970s. He is a founding member of the Short Film Forum, the primary forum for alternative filmmakers in Bangladesh, and in 1988 served as Coordinator of the First International Short Film Festival held in Dhaka. His documentary Muktir Gaan was a critical and commercial success, and won the National Award for best documentary, as well as a Special Jury Prize at Film South Asia '97, Kathmandu. His other credits include The Inner Strength, The Conversation and Voices of Children.

Sun, Mar 14th, 3pm
Mission Cultural Ctr
Shown with
Co-presented by

Digital Bangla Project


Bengali Network

Bangladesh, 1999
80 min

Tareque Masud
Catherine Masud

Mishuk Munier

Catherine Masud

Associate Editor
Fauzia Khan




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