“I was delighted to see young filmmakers from Bangalore whose work is bold, mature and enjoyable,” said Chalam Bennurakar, a veteran Bangalore-based documentary filmmaker.
He was one of the speakers at a panel discussion held during the recently concluded Bangalore Queer Film Festival (BQFF) hosted at the Alliance Française de Bangalore, and organised by support groups for gender minorities such as Good As You, Swabhava, We Are Here and Queer and Pirat Dykes.
In its fourth edition, the annual three-day long event showcased the cinematic works of directors from countries such as Lebanon, Canada, Indonesia, Italy, Brazil, Sweden, Sri Lanka and Australia.
Chalam's 120-minute multilingual production, All About our Famila — a work in progress about Familia, the charming hijra and gender minorities rights activist from the city, who died at 24 — was among the handful of films from Bangalore that were screened at the BQFF.
The short and light-hearted English film, Love, Lust and Leela by Dolly Koshy (scriptwriter) and Diana Morris (director) starred Diana and Dolly apart from other young women from the city in candid roles as lesbians looking for partners, sex and love. Morris mentioned later, “We wanted to showcase the lives of the lesbian and bisexual community. The film was shot in two nights on a low budget and with a lot of fun!”
Kalvettukal (meaning sculptures in Tamil), a 33-minute docu-fiction with Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil dialogues and English subtitles, highlighted the personal and social challenges that female to male (FTM) transgenders face. Gee Ameena Suleiman, a female to male transgender from Bangalore who made and acted in the film shared, “I am grateful to my cast for sharing their stories. Regional languages were used in the production as many FTMs are working class people and do not know English.”
Established filmmaker and artist Ayisha Abraham's I saw a God dance and a package of four queer films curated by Shai Heredia (curator of the biennial film fest Experimenta) rounded up the contributions from Bangalore.
In addition to the films and videos, was an exhibition of poignant and powerful photos with personalised texts. These included a body of work called ‘Killing kittens' by Andrea Fernandes from Goa, which questioned the discrimination that women, particularly lesbians, experience in the public space. While Bangladeshi Ghazi Nafis Admed's collection titled ‘Inner Face' portrayed homosexual love, pictures by Akshay Mahajan depicted the tenderness of the human body.
Minal Hajratwala, a poet from the U.S., and local poets Joshua Muyiwa and Rohini Malur were among those who read out their works. Further, music and dance performances by groups such as the Pink Divas added a distinct flavour to this fiesta.