INDIRANAGAR:Over the past decade or so, the Bangalore Queer Film Festival has firmly established itself in the city’s cultural calendar without government funding or fixed sponsors.
Ask Vinay Chandran, the festival director, how he and the rest of the team manage to put it together every year, and he jokes, “With a lot of blood pressure and diabetes medication.”
But he says, since they have a venue tie-up with Alliance Francaise de Bengaluru, and this year with Max Muller Bhavan as well, they manage to pull it off with approximately `2 to `3 lakh. “This has remained steady over the past few years,” he tells City Express.
The major expenditure, adds Chandran, is usually printing the schedule. “We don’t pay for the screening rights, but if there are filmmakers who would like their films screened but can’t afford to send them to us, we pay for courier charges,” he says. If the films have to be brought from another part of the globe, the courier charges could add up to a substantial amount.
The group depends on community donations, and the organising team — comprising members of Good As You (GAY), Swabhava Trust, We’re Here and Queer (WHAQ!) and Pirat Dykes — also approaches corporates for support. But corporates haven’t been too forthcoming this year, it seems.
“When they (the organisers) approached us, we heard that a lot of the corporates are cutting back this year because their CSR activities have to be under certain categories,” says Maureen Gonsalves, programme coordinator, Max Muller Bhavan, adding that the institute is happy to support the festival as a venue partner.
“We don’t really associate ourselves with anything controversial, but this is also an urban, cultural, social event, and we’ve also brought two film festival packages — from the Berlin Film Festival and the Dresden Film Festival. If we screened these films on our own, we’d have no audience,” she adds.
As for the government, it gives them exemptions, he says. “Once we apply for it. It’s a free event, so we don’t have to pay anything.
Only the delegates have access to it, so we don’t have to censor heavily what we screen,” he explains. Chandran tells City Express that the preview committee picked the current set of 55 films from over a 100 entries. “The main criterion is quality. We do censor, of course, but not so harshly that the basic essence is lost. They’re based on queer themes, so a certain kind of language and shots are expected in them,” he says.
Some entries, the ones where filmmakers don’t understand the theme and send films on child labour and deforestation, are easy to cull out. But there are others that have to be dropped, sometimes last minute, because of lack of time.
Forum for directors
But many popular films aren’t featured as screening rights turn out to be too expensive. “Especially ones from other parts of the world like South Africa and South America are very good these days, but the money we would have to pay to screen them is in dollars, often coming up to `40,000 to `50,000, and we can’t manage that with our budget,” Chandran says.
In the past, the festival has also been a forum where filmmakers of the shorter, smaller films—which are otherwise hard to come by—have met producers and distributors. “And some films have even found distributors,” he says.
This year, the festival has expanded from one venue to two, so will it see parallel screenings in the future? Chandran is optimistic. “I would want more than that—I would like to see it become like the Bengaluru International Film Festival, in both size and quality. And who knows, in the next few years, we might even be able to tie up with multiplexes, and maybe they could even screen some of these films regularly,” he says.
Bengaluru Queer Film Festival, till March 1, Alliance Francaise. For details, call 22230959. For the schedule, log on to