Review Short Film Fest : Queer Nazaria

[Guest Author : Sophie Parisse]

Queer Nazaria, the event was well attended (more than houseful, roughly about 90 to 100 people), by a mixed crowd, ranging from individuals of our very own LGBT community and visiting LGBT individuals from Singapore to members of the Alliance Française. This allowed for very diverse and heated interventions after the films screenings.

There was a brief introduction of the films as well as the film makers before every film.

We kicked off with The Marching Season by Grace Chapman and Emma Jones. The film had a beautiful response. It was so appropriate to this pre-march event since it looks at the history of pride marches while drawing a parallel between the London and Riga pride marches that had been twinned in 2007. The film was followed by a brief update on the Riga marches in 2008 and 2009.

The discussion that followed started with a kind of ping pong match between the ‘straight’ viewers who were wondering why the LGBT community took up so much effort for the right to get married since we know that the institution of marriage doesn’t work. This was very aptly replied to by a member of our community. Positive comments were also given by the audience regarding the film like the one by an American native who had been part of the stonewall events and was delighted to see how the filmmakers had brought these historical events alive in their film.

After looking at the community and its rights as a whole we then moved into a more intimate and personal space with Love and Words by Sylvie Ballyot that took us eastwards, to Yemen. Love and Words is not easy to categorize: it is simultaneously a film about a film that was never shot, a documentation about Yemeni youth, and their responses to love, marriage and homosexuality, and a story about a forbidden love. The film has long shots and a landscape of various minute sounds. The only dialogues are the interviews with the Yemeni youth, otherwise it is almost silent. The filmmaker chooses to work with titles to narrate her story instead of having a voice over. The film also looks at the way different cultures love, their contrast and how this can create shocks between two individuals of different cultures who love each other.

There were a few individuals who left the room since this is not an easy film to watch and disturbs by its form and content. After the screening individuals of the audience stated their feelings about what they just saw. I came to know that the film was still discussed among people during the weekend following the screening.

Then we had a short tea and samosa break.

Though a few people left after the break the screening room was still pretty much full for the second part of the program that brought us home.

We started the short films with The Bath by Sachin Kundalkar which interested me because of its link with section 377 without being per say an LGBT issue since it looks at male prostitution.

Tejal Shah’s, What are You? is a video part of an art installation that includes photography and sounds scapes. The video itself explores the idea of transgender and rights within the Indian context of the hijra community.

To end, Subuhi Jiwani’s Queer Azaadi March was a wink to our last year’s march and an invitation to attend this year’s march. Subuhi was present and responded to the audience questions on her film.

Then an individual declared us perverts. This statement ended up into a debate whether an open space like Queer Nazaria could tolerate this kind of negative allegations which obviously didn’t take the dialogue beyond the offensive/defensive type. Instead would rejection of the LGBT community bring about a more elaborated interaction leading to somewhere if it was done in a more thoughtful way?

We never got to know why that uncle declared us perverts.

In a more constructive way two very interesting points were discussed; Are pride marches really helping towards building visibility and acceptance in a positive way for the majority of the society. Or are these marches just our own celebration for our own pleasure?

Could we imagine other strategies and what would they resemble?

Here a person from Singapore visiting Bombay explained how the LGBT community there counters the government that tries to silence them by going to educational institutions to spread awareness on LGBT issues among the youth.

We had many very positive returns by the public regarding this event. Many asked us to take something like this forward into a full fleshed film festival that could go on for several days.

Cheers from Bombay

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