Touching stories on screen

An interesting array of films, with strong efforts to bring the queer world cinema into the City and create social spaces for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT), were screened at The Bangalore Queer Film Festival, held at the Alliance Francaise recently.

This year’s edition showcased 77 films, of which 17 were by Indian film-makers. There was representation from 24 other countries. A variety of films, which included features, short films and documentaries, were a part of the festival. The highlights of the festival was Mia, a film from Argentina, which was a touching story about transwoman and ‘Still Black: A Portrait of Black Transmen’, which showcased the inseparability of race and gender through the experiences of black transmen in the US. Another movie ‘The Invisible Men’, a documentary on living a life of contradiction, had many viewers.

Apart from the numerous films, a photography exhibition was also a part of the festival. The work of different photographers — Pacifico Silano from the USA, Alexander Karl Getsev from Russia and Jess T Dugan from the USA — were displayed. There was also an art installation of postcards that were addressed to the Supreme Court (SC) by LGBT people from across the country at the festival.

Different performances were also conducted. The first day’s performance was by a classical musician Sumathi, who performed on Raag Kalyani, and the second day offered a musical performance and reading by queer writers. The third day had dance performances that included Bollywood numbers.

Sumalatha Jayakumar, a visitor at the festival, said that the judgement by the SC had in fact created a boomerang effect and probably made more people come in. “I can’t say for sure but I think there are more queer people here and that is because they feel much more confident about their rights,” she says.

Varun, one of the performers at the festival who performed to songs from Bollywood, Tollywood and Sandalwood, said that he felt that the performance segment was a gender bender. “The idea was to represent more energy and also to communicate the fact that item numbers are not restricted to item girls and that these can be done by anyone,” said Varun.
The organisers of the festival said that the response has, as always, been overwhelming. “There has been an increase in people coming after every edition. The response could be of two reasons — the law isn’t really impactful and is deeply felt by everyone, or that the law is impactful and has caused more confidence for the queer,” said Vinay Chandran, festival director.

Nithin, an organiser, said that the festival started off with many transgenders.
   But now, one may feel that the festival has more of a gay crowd,” he observed.
 Nithin also said that another change that was noticed was that more and more feature film-makers seem to be interested in participating in the event.

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