West Meets East, which began in 2019, was a special section of the Dhaka International Film Festival aimed at bridging the gap between the Western film industry and filmmakers from the East.
This special section was introduced as Screenplay Lab in 2022. Scripts from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka were shortlisted from an amazing pool of submissions. Even though few participants and mentors couldn’t join Diff in the flesh due to covid, most were present physically and some even joined virtually from USA, UK, and India. In that year 1st winner project was Putali Ko Sapna by Kiran Pokharel from Nepal, 2nd winner was Fear-y-Tale by Tasmiah Afrin Mou from Bangladesh, and the 3rd winner was Kanda Vanda by Gaurav Madan from India.

For the 2nd time, West Meets East Screenplay Lab was successfully held at the 21st Dhaka International Film Festival in 2023. In that lab, the 1st winner project’s name was “Song of Jhinuk” by Afroza Hossain from Bangladesh. 2nd winning project was from Nepal by Nigam Bhandari named “Messengers of the Gods” and the 3rd winning project was from India by Ritwik Goswami named “Swarnapuchhri”.

West Meets East Screenplay Lab will return in 2024 for its third edition where selected filmmakers from South Asia will be given an opportunity to network with professionals including producers, distributors, and programmers from the global industry. After mentoring at the Lab, the successful participants will pitch to potential international collaborators through the program’s market section- Film Haat.

Any filmmaker from this region (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka) can submit a feature-length fiction project with the following documents-
Logline (50 Words Max)
Synopsis (400 words max)
Director’s statement (400 max)
treatment (2000 Words max)
Director’s profile

Only the selected projects will be asked to submit a complete screenplay. The above documents must be submitted to diff.filmhut@gmail.com by August 30, 2023 (In one file; Word/PDF). Shortlisted applicants will be notified by September 30, 2023. They will be required to submit the full script by November 30, 2023.
Mentoring of the finalists will be done during the West Meets East Screenplay Lab (23-26 January 2024) and pitching will take place at the Film Haat, both during the 22nd Dhaka International Film Festival on 20-28 January 2024. After successful pitching, three projects will be awarded cash prizes: 1st Prize being USD 5000, and 2nd and 3rd Prizes being USD 3000 and USD 2000 respectively.

Co-convenors of West Meets East, AKA Reza Ghalib, and Sadia Khalid Reeti will oversee the screenplay lab and co-production market- Film Haat.

1st Place

Song of Jhinuk, Afroza Hossain Sara

2st Place

Messengers of the Gods, Nigam Bhandari

3st Place

Swarnapuchhri, Ritwik Goswami

Co-Convenor, West Meets East Screenplay Lab

Aka Reza Ghalib is a film-maker by choice, TV programme maker by profession, computer scientist by training, Aka Reza Ghalib essentially considers himself a film activist. His first feature length film, “Dangling by a String”, participated in a number of international festivals. His next film, a short fiction “Headless”, won an award as Best Human Rights Film at an international film festival. An avid reader he also teaches filmmaking, at different universities, which he considers a part of his activism.

His similar activities include working as an Advisor to a UNICEF Project titled “Enhancing Child Participation through One Minute Junior Video”. He also acts as a mentor for the project on “Challenging Visual Depiction of Women and Sexual Violence in Southasia” spanning across four South Asian countries and funded by the Southasia Trust based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He was a Jury Member for the Liberation Docfest Bangladesh.

Sadia Khalid Reeti is a film critic and screenwriter. She studied Screenwriting at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and worked on numerous scripts in Hollywood. She has also worked as an entertainment journalist since 2012 in Dhaka and Los Angeles. Currently the Cultural Editor of Dhaka Tribune, Sadia has served as a jury member at different international film festivals in Italy, India, England, Nepal, France, Russia and Bangladesh. She served as a FIPRESCI jury at Cannes Film Festival, International Film Festival of Kerala and Dhaka International Film Festival. A Berlinale Talents alumna, she attended mentorship programs with Film Independent and Locarno Open Doors. She also teaches film studies at different universities and institutions.