“The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community is a reality of Indian society. Instead of ignoring the fact, socially accept them and make efforts to do away with laws that make them criminals,” documentary film-maker Betty Bernhard has said.

She was speaking to media persons at the ‘meet-the-director’ session held in connection with the ongoing sixth International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) at the Press Club here on Sunday.

Speaking about her film Out! Loud!, which deals with the lives of the LGBT community,she said it was also an opportunity for her to make a statement that the LGBT community was not a creation of the West, but it found representation even in the Indian sacred texts such as the puranas.

“One should show some compassion to these people, and do not make their life miserable by saying that this is not an Indian way. Instead of neglecting the fact, own it. Laws such as section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that make them liable for punishments and imprisonment should no more be existing in today’s world,” she said.

Ms. Bernhard said that though she had attended numerous film festivals as a delegate, this was her first experience of visiting festivals as a film-maker. She felt that while the response from the audience was very encouraging, it was also necessary to create a platform for the audience and film-makers to interact after the film screening.

Promote Indian films

Ace cinematographer and film-maker Santosh Sivan said Indian film festivals should primarily embrace and promote talented film-makers from the country than showcasing western cinema.

“In various film festivals across the world, all countries promote their own films in their festivals. But we rarely see such kind of support in our film festivals,” said Mr. Sivan to a question on the importance of film festivals in the country.

His long documentary ‘A Farmer from Kuttanad,’ which deals with the everyday life of a farmer and his conflicts with modern developments that affect his farming, was screened at the festival. Joining him on the occasion was the protagonist of the movie M.R. Vijayan, who also spoke about the lack of support for farming initiatives and the consequences one might have to face in the future due to the destruction of the agriculture lands.

Film critic Noel Burch, who has curated the ‘History of Documentary’ section for the festival, also attended the press conference. He said though he did not have any specific criterion for selecting films for the Indian audience, he tried to choose realistic films than ‘pure documentaries’ and those which were not staged for the Indian viewers.