Photo Credit: Akhila Reddy
“Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn’t give you what you desire – it tells you how to desire” ~Slavoj Zizek, Cultural Critic
The 9th edition of the Bangalore Queer Film Festival (BQFF), that spanned from 9th March to 11th March, screened a staggering 89 films from over 30 countries. For 3 entire days, from 9am till 10pm, BQFF was nothing but a passionate celebration of queer-themed cinema full of zest and zeal.
And if you think BQFF is only about cinema, you may be wrong! Other than cinema, BQFF this year incorporated in its schedule, two independent brilliant performances – a play and a musical party.
Shiva – the BQFF curtain raiser is a 90 minute play, performed on the evening of 8th March.
Shiva traces the story of a young poet, Shiv, and his journey of opening up to his mother about his sexuality through a series of letters and poems.
On the night of 10th March, there was a musical party – The Black Mamba Live Electro DUO SET, featuring Suman Sridhar and Natasha Mendonca.
The party was a beautiful blend of original songs, a few covers and slam poetry fused with Afro-Indian grooves, exploring multiple meanings and inclusive expressions of gender and womanhood.
The cinema that spanned over the three days can be categorized into four broad categories :
Feature films, Documentaries, Shorts, and Animation.
Malila: The Farewell Flower is a visual exploration of the life of a couple – Pitch and Shane, who once, were lovers. As both of them are reviving their old romance, Shane finds out that Pitch has a disease that makes him terminally ill. After Pitch’s death, Shane decides to be monk forever.
However Pitch still has a role to play to help Shane attain his monkhood.
Ein Weg (Paths) is a story of two homosexual men who come together as a couple, raise a kid, and go through lots of ups and downs in their life – both personally and professionally.
It is a brutally honest portrayal of married life , encompassing a spectrum of emotions and told so elegantly that it leaves a mark on your heart.
Do they remain together till the end? Is remaining together the only way a relationship can end happily? This movie is a definite must-watch.
Aabar Jadi Ichchha Karo…(If You Dare Desire …)
Two young girls that are in love with each other from a small village in West Bengal, commit suicide.
Partially based on a true event, the film explores possibilities of those two girls staying together and facing the unpredictabilities of Life.
“How many kids do you have Monica? Ohh wait wait, you haven’t got married. Right?”
“It’s not that I haven’t. I simply didn’t want to.”
Filled with a whole bunch of kickass dialogues throughout the 75 minutes, Turuk is setup in small town in Madhya Pradesh, where Chess is a popular past time game played on the road-side under a tree.
Against this background, are the common people – a female maid, a government worker, a budding Hindu politician,and a newcomer Muslim person.
Each of them living a common life, but having their not-so-common desires and dreams.
With a compact screenplay, absolutely rustic portrayal of characters and a foot-tapping background score – Turuk really connected to everyone among the audience, who gave several applauses throughout the screening.
Irattajeevitham( (S)He )
Sainu and Amina are two inseparable childhood friends, like a body and its shadow. But inside Amina is hiding a man, yearning for release.
Amina elopes from her village and returns after 10 years as a man – Adraman.
Irattajeevitham is an enduring story of struggle and acceptance of Adraman from his family, the society and more importantly, from Sainu.
Photo Credit: Akhila Reddy
A very brilliant and equally emotive documentary about a trans-woman in Tamilnadu and her relationship, her bond with her family, particularly her mother.
Thedal stands out for its honest representation of the hardships that a queer person goes through at several levels : personal, family ,and social.
Ladies and Gentlewomen
“Homosexuality is found in many animal species, but homophobia is seen in only one!”
A documentary on lesbian women and couples from Tamil Nadu, Ladies and Gentlewomen touches upon the sensitive issue of suicides among lesbian couples.
The issues of lesbian women( or queer people in general ) is presented in a captivating way as a set of interviews of lesbian couples, a supreme court lawyer, a writer, a teacher and a few LGBT activists.
It underlines the sheer amount of effort we all need to put to help educate the hetero-normative society to understand and accept the marginalised LGBT community.
“The day I came out of the closet, it was awful! But only for my family, not for me!”
The film follows the work of lesbian couple who perform as drag kings in a rural town near Havana.
They work to challenge gender expectations and spread understanding within their community.
Taste of Love
A short 5 mins movie, but incredibly mouth-watering! 😉
Taste of love is a story of a girl who finds thrill in exploring her taste of love.
A brilliant and bold take on the tabooism that is generally associated with sex, in both hetero/homo-sexual community.
A Letter to the Person I Have Met on Tinder
A uniquely presented 5 minute short film, with three frames of three locations and two characters.
This particular way in which the short was presented was something impressive to see!
Creative. Refreshing. Experimental! It has no human characters and the story flows through beautiful art works.
It is about the artist’s relationship with her driver father, sharing her lesbian identity.
Amar and Prem call their relationship off and choose to be friends. But soon, loneliness rekindles longing. Can they go back?
Is the grass always greener on the other side?
A thought-provoking short on the current dating culture in the community.
The Source is a Hole
“Love is nothing but an artefact of ego.”
A mystical voice contemplates mythology, science fiction, sexuality and death as a series of holes : through which to travel, perceive and accept.
“He doesn’t really like the idea of the labels. He feels labels confine him.”
Michael is faced with a dilemma when a night of drinking with friends turns into a sensual exploration of sexual identity.
A revelation about his roomate takes Sandeep to his childhood.
The background score and the songs used in this short along with the flash-backs for Sandeep, add amazing effect to the story-telling.
Photo Credit: Akhila Reddy
Venus : Filly The Lesbian Little Fairy
In this animated fairy tale – Filly, a lesbian fairy with nimble fingers, seduces women by day dressed as a boy
But at the night something strange happens and soon half of the village is eagerly queuing up.
“When you least expect anything, it reverberates.”
An entertaining and really cute movie about a young girl who finds someone to spark her flame.
Special Mention –
“I Confess” was a series of 90 minutes autobiographical shorts from the Canadian Queer Film Archive, submitted by Thomas Waugh of the Queer Media Databases Canada-Quebec, Concordia University.
All in all, the 9th edition of BQFF was indeed an engaging, entertaining and knowledge-expanding encounter for all the people in the audience.
It was a celebration of cinema and sentiments.
Every queer-themed film gave an enduring exposure to universal themes like Fear, Acceptance, Family, Choice, Sexuality, Desire, Marriage, Humiliation, Identity, Revenge, Pride and above all – Love.
In the end I leave you with a few touching/thought-provoking dialogues from some of the films :
>Portrait of Jason
“On a performing stage, three things always work – Sex, Comedy and Tragedy. The end has to be by the tragedy. People like to see the sufferings of others.”
“Does it(prostitution) bother you?”
“Not really. Many a times I just turn off my head and imagine pretty pictures.”
>In a Land of Macho Men, Queer is the King
“The real battle is not inside the ring, but it is every morning looking into the mirror.”
>Récit d’A (A[ids] Story)
(A HIV+ve person in an interview in the 90s )
“Hope is like footsteps in the sand. We are afraid that we might lose them.”
>When Smoke Collides
“Can you tell I’m gay?”
“No.You just look like any other boy.”
“Are you gay?”
“Can you tell?”
“I like simple things. For example this moment. It’s so simple, isn’t it?”