For the first time, the city played host to a different kind of film festival from June 7 to 9. All the films that were screened at Alliance Française of Madras on these three days spoke about LGBT issues and received positive responses from the audience that comprised both the general public and members of the LGBT community.
The Chennai Rainbow Film Festival is a debut effort of Chennai Dost, an organisation working on LGBT issues. Organised in partnership with Alliance Française of Madras, the three-day festival screened documentaries and short films. According to the organisers, the festival aimed at providing a venue for screening the works of established and emerging gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer filmmakers and the works of others, who portray the community in a positive and affirmative light. Vikranth Prasanna, founder of Chennai Dost, said a film festival of this kind was a powerful tool to inspire self-reflection and to create awareness about the problems the community faced every day. His words were true as notable works such as Mazhayudirkaalam, Between the two and Pizhai that were screened at the festival brought a lot of critical issues and problems faced by LGBT community to the public domain.
Speaking to City Express, Rupesh, an event coordinator at the Chennai Rainbow Film Festival from Chennai Dost said, “This is the first time initiative of Chennai Dost to organise such an event. This year, we have partnered with Alliance Francaise of Madras and have planned to join hands with different institutions in the coming years. We received enthusiastic responses from both the activists and general public. They also gave us some suggestions and we will improve the festival to a great extent in upcoming years.” Apart from film-screenings, a panel discussion on the topic ‘Media Portrayal of LGBT’ was also part of the festival. Writer Charu Nivedita, transgender Rose Venkatesan, Chennai Dost Founder Vikranth Prasanna and actor Fathima Babu participated in the discussion. At the festival, Chennai Dost distributed ‘Rainbow Ambassadors’ awards to five personalities, who portrayed LGBT issues in a good way. The awardees included actor and politician Sarath Kumar, the director of Narthagi film Vijaya Padma Govindarajan and critic Gnani Sankaran.
Awards to the best Indian and international short film and best documentaries were given at the valedictory session held on Sunday. Danseuse Anita Ratnam inaugurated the festival.