An Indian-theme film festival being held abroad is not very big news anymore. But an Indian LGBT-themed festival is definitely unique. A collection of Indian LGBT-themed films will screen across several venues across the UK, among them the historic Old Theatre at 309 Regent Street, where the Lumiere Brothers screened a film way back in 1896.
Among the films playing at the queer festival include Sridhar Rangayan’s Gulabi Aaina (The Pink Mirror) and award-winning short films from the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival like Amen, Kusum (The Flower Bud), Logging Out and Raat Baaki (Night is Young). The event is organised by the India Media Centre at the University of Westminster in an attempt to showcase contemporary Indian gay, lesbian, transgender-themed films to raise awareness about the gay culture in India and to promote discussions.
Rangayan, who has put the films together, told DNA that the development was a huge step for the handful of filmmakers exploring LGBT themes in their films. A trailer of his next film, Breaking Free, about the atrocities perpetuated on the LGBT community by the police, law, state and family in India will be screened too. The subject is similar to the one filmmaker Onir explored in one of the four short stories that made up I Am.
Nakshatra, a young filmmaker whose Logging Out won the Kashish Coffee Break Online Audience Award in 2012, says that his first film was made on a zero budget model, making the selection that much more special, “It will be interesting to reach out to European audiences and see how they respond to Indian queer films.’’
Pallav Patankar, a co-director of Kashish, says, “India is at an interesting crossroad of the LGBT movement and some of the films here reflect the struggle many Indian gays face while coming to terms with their sexuality and gender role in the context of an Indian identity.”
A round-table discussion on ‘Curating Queer Film Culture’ is also slated. The discussion is organised by Global Queer Cinema and is on the role of film culture in queer public life. It will feature festival programmers from London and New York, including Rangayan. “I’m glad to share this platform with programmers from very established film festivals. Coming from a country where homosexuality was criminalized until recently and is still a social taboo, Kashish has made great strides in mainstreaming queer visibility,” Rangayan says.