A short email interview with Vinay Chandran, festival director of the recently concluded Bangalore Queer Film Festival (BQFF).
Q. Bangalore Queer Film Festival (BQFF) just concluded it’s 7th edition, Congratulations! Personally I am very curious know about the journey. So tell us how did the idea of having an International Queer Film Festival in Bangalore come about?
Thank you. All of us who are part of the BQFF organising team are crazy about films. We’ve been involved with cinema in one way or the other for over the last 2 decades. When my organisation, Swabhava, first co-organised (with Pedestrian Pictures and Scorus group) the “Queering Bangalore” film festival in the city, back in 2003, we were quite content with the steady flow of film lovers both from within the LGBT community and its allies but also from general public. We knew we had to repeat the festival again, but didn’t get a chance till a couple of years later, when we co-hosted and supported two more film festivals with queer content. In 2009, Karthik, a founder of the current BQFF, put together the first Bangalore Queer Film Festival and since then we’ve become an important part of Bangalore’s cultural landscape. From a 100 members participating over a day at the 2003 event to over 1000 members in a day at the 2015 event, we were quite happy with having stuck to the decision of co-hosting the fest with or without funding! Today, four co-organisers including local support groups Good As You and WHAQ! and film group Pirat Dykes support the festival or contribute to its survival.
Q. Venue partner for this year’s BQFF is Alliance Francaise. Why and how are such spaces befitting to alternative forms of cinema and what kind of support do they bring to the collaboration?
Actually, we have two venue partners this year. Alliance Française was always a venue partner for all the festival events in the last 7 years. This year, we’re delighted to also partner with Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan as both, the venue and the festival partner. They’ve helped us by screening short films from Berlinale and Dresden that have been screened at other festivals in India. This year, Alliance Française de Bangalore is not only venue partner but also festival partner as they, through their Institut Française helps BQFF by screening several French films during the BQFF event. Both these venues have always been supportive of the BQFF and its objectives, so we know that through their support more and more members of the LGBT community are able to access films and network with filmmakers from around the world.
Q. What were the selection criteria for the films being screened this year.
As always, we focused on thematic approach, entertainment quotient, quality of execution, and originality wherever necessary. A wide representation of queer communities was also a must in our selection process so as to ensure that stories of as many gender and sexual minorities are told.
(Still from the film De Sidere 7)
Q. Give us 3-4 must watch films from this years selection.
Where to begin! There are many in this selection that are simply too good to miss. The opening, center piece and closing films are a must watch for any film lover and filmmaker. Then short films like A Place in the Middle, Tomboy, De Sidere 7 (from Bangalore’s own Nicolas Grandi and Lata Mani), are some of the many you have to get your hands on.
Q. Do you think this is any way impacts upcoming/aspiring LGBTQ filmmakers in India?
Absolutely. I know for a fact that there are young filmmakers who come to the BQFF film festival one year as participants and then show up the next year with entries that are being screened. Spaces like the BQFF provide adequate and fertile grounds for imagining how filmmakers experiments are received.
(*Photograph credit : Zubair Khan)