The annual Bangalore Queer Film Festival (BQFF) organised by a few enthusiastic groups such as Good As You (GAY), Swabhava Trust, We’re Here and Queer (WHAQ!), and Pirat Dykes was an eye-opener. The festival seemed unperturbed by the contradictory stand taken by the Central Government a few days back and received a very good response. Still in its fourth year, it didn’t seem like the festival is ever going to fade away.
This three-day affair at the Alliance Francaise De Bangalore started on February 24 and received overwhelming response from the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender) community and film lovers from within and outside the country. Breaking all stereotypes on the LGBT community, the festival showcased films from around the world that spoke about the complexities of belonging to the sexual minority and the challenges which the world puts them through on a day-to-day basis.
The festival this year presented 59 films from 16 countries and included six full-length features, 34 short films, six short documentaries, six experimental films and seven full-length documentaries.
Roy Sinai, a Bangalore-based journalist and photographer, on a sabbatical from corporate life, was at the BQFF for the fourth time. He says, “Such festivals are an absolute necessity as it creates more awareness and sensitises people on the issues faced by the LGBT community. People, in general, need to talk about sex much more. If we don’t discuss such subjects, it will end up in the form of abuse and violence in society. A platform like this gives voice and courage to many people with alternate sexuality.”
He adds, “There is no difference between us and the ‘Queer’. The issues faced by them is far deeper than what is portrayed in the media. Unfortunately, we are educated about sex from the wrong sources such as pornography and billboards, which leads to unrealistic expectations. We need to be less hypocritical about ourselves and be loved just the way we are.”
Day one showcased movies like I’m Gay (USA), Between the Two (India), Everyday to Stay (Canada), Shabbat Dinner (USA), Un Chant d’Amour (France) and many more. Of all the movies that were screened, the Indonesian film Madame X, directed by Lucky Kuswandi, tickled the funny bones. It is about a hair-salon worker played by Amink, who is a transgender and turns into a superhero in the process of fighting homosexuality.
The second day had an even bigger crowd. Another participant, a student from Mumbai, Soumitra says, “I won’t say there has been a shift in the way people think, but I think that such interactions are critical to create more awareness on issues faced by our community. More importantly, to just let us be. ‘Queer’ isn’t synonymous with strange anymore.” The day also saw the screening of movie­­­s like Men to Kiss (Germany), Jojo Darling (India), Love, Lust and Leela (India), and Amen (India).
It was followed by a panel discussion by filmmakers, on homosexuality in India and issues relating to censorship and distribution faced by them.
The photo exhibition by the young Mumbai-based Andrea Fernandes, called Killing Kittens, which talks about sexual revolutions, was a show stealer. She said, “Most people in my photographs are models, but the quotes are from real people. It would have taken me 15 years, if I had to convince real people and photograph them for my show.”