Queer Film Festivals – Challenging Indian Societal Mores and Prejudices
As an artistic approach towards bringing about some openness to LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender) discussions in India, each year, queer film festivals are being held in multiple locations across the country. Cinema is definitely as a means to understand the life of the queer community and how our society deals with them in general. Indian as well as international short films, feature films, and documentaries with queer themes are selected and screened at these events, along with celebrations and performances.
Kashish International Queer Film Festival, Mumbai
First held in 2010, this queer film festival in Mumbai is organized by Solaris Pictures, an Indian media house that is renowned for some brilliant works like Pink Mirror, 68 Pages, and Project Bolo. The event has gained worldwide popularity and as of today remains the largest LGBT film festival across the South Asian sub-continent. Kashish is held over a period of 4-5 days in Mumbai, usually featuring more than 100 film projects – all of them with themes and stories that throw light over queer lifestyles and practices. In a worldwide poll conducted in 2013 by the MovieMaker magazine, Kashish stood proudly among the Top 5 Coolest LGBT Film Festivals of the world.In a worldwide poll conducted in 2013 by the MovieMaker magazine, Kashish stood proudly among the Top 5 Coolest LGBT Film Festivals of the world. KASHISH is generally considered the only mainstream queer film festival of India as the films as are screened at multiplexes – not in a club. This not only helps bring more people to attend but also improves awareness and acceptance. Some of the Indian movies that competed for awards in their 2014 event included Kyunki, Between Dreams and Waking, Lipstick, Mitraa, Little Boxes, Kanna, and Right To Left.
Bangalore Queer Film Festival
The Bangalore Queer Film Festival (BQFF) is another event that brings to the Bangalore audience groundbreaking, hard-hitting queer film projects from all over the world. Their art is not restricted to just film festivals – art exhibitions and photo exhibitions centered on LGBT themes highlight the courage, issues and lives of the LGBT community. The Bangalore Queer Film Festival is not restricted to just films – art exhibitions and photo exhibitions centered on LGBT themes highlight the courage, issues and lives of the LGBT community.BQFF has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, growing to an extent to host an event each year, as they try to push societal boundaries with a set of queer arts and films. BQFF 2014 showcased over 50 international films, a photo exhibition, panel discussions on important issues and cultural performances. The 2014 festival was held over 3 days at the Alliance Française de Bangalore, Vasanthnagar.Some of the iconic Indian film projects they showcased included Bioscope, Frangipani, You Are My Brother, Aan Poovu and Paper Flowers
Reel Desires, Chennai
Chennai also recently hosted their international queer film festival called Reel Desires in July 2014, in the wake of re-criminalization of LGBT practices the year before through the dogmatic and notorious Section 377. Like other queer film festivals in India, this event also screened a set of film projects that sought to enrich our queer culture. Some of these films included Just Two Steps Away, Krutch, Change Over Time, Kumu Hina, Woman to Woman, Somagwaza, Love in the Time of 377, and more. With a total screening time of upto 14 hours in a period of 3 days, Reel Desires also featured panel discussions and a Q&A session with the filmmakers.
There is a growing need in the Indian society to break down walls cornering queer practices and spread the message across families, friends, and peers – a mission furthered bravely by these energetic queer film festivals of India. These film festivals provide fertile grounds for young fiery minds to showcase the magic of relationships – irrespective of gender preferences, seeking to build an environment devoid of taboo, stigma, and discrimination when it comes to the sexual preferences of men, women, and transgender people.
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