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The virtual True Colors Film Festival 2020 is a celebration of inclusivity, with three Indian films

Film still of ‘37 Seconds’  

Film festivals have had to adapt to a virtual viewing ground owing to the pandemic, but True Colors Film Festival (TCFF), is not shying away from this medium. Since its inception in 2006, the festival has travelled to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, and Japan, having presented more than 1,100 performing artists from more than 30 countries and having attracted more than 40,000 people.

The film festival, which went live on International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, is all about celebrating inclusivity regardless of disability, gender, race or religion, through movies. The theme this year is One World One Family, reminding filmmakers and audiences they are bound by a common love for movies.

Festival organiser Tan Bee Thiam

Festival organiser Tan Bee Thiam  

Singaporean Tan Bee Thiam, the festival organiser, is eagerly waiting for the virtual festivities to begin. A filmmaker himself, his first feature film Tiong Bahru Social Club is a social comedy. But equally so, he is proud of the diverse spectrum of films.

“Indeed we are happy to find a wide spectrum of films that cover themes about disability, woman representation, LGBT, poverty and adversity, and racism,” he explains over e-mail. “There are recent award-winning titles like 37 Seconds (2019, Japan) and [the 2020 Portuguese film nominated for Oscar contention] Listen, as well as rare classics like The Chess Game Of The Wind (1976, Iran), Moral (1982, Philippines) and Darkness and Light. Viewed from a range of perspectives, these films deepen our understanding of what an inclusive and diverse ‘One World, One Family’ will be like.” Dignity with Flowers (2018) by Gautam Pemmaraju will also be playing at TCFF, much to Tan Bee’s delight.

Gurugram-based filmmaker Vijay S Jodha, whose film Insight Within is premiering at the festival while his 2013/14 film Poop On Poverty is also set to show, admits, “short films have no theatrical screening prospects and a minuscule television broadcast option. So the downturn faced by TV or cinemas due to COVID-19 makes little difference to prospects of short films like Insight Within.”

The virtual True Colors Film Festival 2020 is a celebration of inclusivity, with three Indian films

“My film is about a serious issue [visual impairment] and an inspiring personality who addressed it meaningfully. Materials from this film project have been used over the years as part of presentations to build partnership and raise resources to address this issue. So that payoff is the biggest success for me as the film’s director. Just last Saturday, the protagonist of my film Dr Jitender Aggarwal was on India’s leading TV show KBC with Amitabh Bachchan where he shared this journey. So this inspiring story is travelling far and wide in myriad forms.”

The OTT norm

Vijay also acknowledges the value of film festivals during the pandemic particularly in the space of production, explaining that “fortunately, cinema is one of those cultural activities that can seamlessly move online.” He adds that cinema as a collective mass experience “is already under threat thanks to the expensive movie-going experience and rise of OTT platforms.”

Speaking of the OTT norm, Tan Bee elaborates, “Because of the pandemic, most international film festivals have gone online. However, not all films, especially newer titles, are ready to go online yet as they are still waiting for theatrical distribution. Without film festivals, audiences might never have discovered films beyond what was pushed to them by algorithms of commercial OTT platforms.”

He sums up, “Therefore, it is even more important for film festivals today to curate films for audiences who are looking for something different. The True Colors Film Festival has a unique purpose — it selects films and makes them available online and for free, to deepen our understanding of an inclusive world and equip us with the vocabulary and sensitivity to discuss issues such as disability so that these dialogues are captured and represented well.”

True Colors Film Festival is on till December 12, and is available for free. For details, visit: https://truecolors2020.jp/en/

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 8:13:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/true-colors-film-festival-2020-with-tan-bee-thiam-vijay-s-jodha/article33239463.ece

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