Film festival aims to create LGBT awareness in schools

‘We want promote all-inclusive education so that the community does not feel isolated or unwanted’

Published - November 09, 2021 06:19 pm IST - Kolkata

Prayasam, a UNICEF-supported organisation that works with underserved communities in Kolkata, is organising a film festival dedicated to the LGBT community, the idea being to drive home the point early on that its members needed — more than anything else — acceptance from their families and society.

The organisation turned 25 this week and the Bad and Beautiful World Film Festival, which it has been holding since 2014, will show an anthology of eight short films titled Resh (reverberance), with screenings being held even in schools.

“The purpose of this film festival is not to ‘popularise’ a community but to normalise and accept people irrespective of their sexual preferences. Learning about LGBTQ issues from a formative age will enable youth to become good allies to their peers as they get older, which is why these films will be screened in Prayasam’s network of 60 schools once the educational institutions open soon,” said Prasanta Roy, director of Prayasam.

“Be it in India or abroad, the scenario hasn’t much changed when it comes to social acceptance. Raising of eyebrows or extra inquisitiveness towards people in same-sex relationship can be witnessed everywhere. And while it has become a trend on social media to use a rainbow frame on Facebook profile photos, this show of support remains limited to social media platforms, conferences, discussions and debates. It is questionable that though Article 377 has been repealed in the book, how many of us will be able to accept if our son or daughter or sibling or a family member is gay or lesbian,” Mr. Roy said.

The festival will open on December 3 at Kalanjali Art Space in the neighbourhood of Salt Lake City, where Prayasam is most active. The entire crew for the eight short films was drawn from the youth associated with Prayasam, whereas the actors were people from outside the organisation. The panel of judges include professionals from India and abroad.

“Our objective is to promote all-inclusive education so that the LGBTQ youth do not feel isolated or unwanted. Through these films, we want to open a positive discussion around these identities and create a more supportive environment. This is very important because one of the main reasons of LGBTQ bullying in schools — which often results in dropouts — comes from students’ lack of understanding of what actually means to be LGBTQ,” he said.

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