Written by Rhea Sovani & Shweta Kumari
Three years after its maiden foray, the second edition of the ‘Advait’ Pune Queer Film Festival is all set to take off at the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) on Saturday. The festival will screen films that revolve around issues that affect the lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. It also aims to promote dialogue about such issues and break the stigma around them. Organised for the first time in 2014, lack of funds had stalled the festival for the next few years.
There is a need to showcase such festivals on a large-scale, said Tejashree Joshi, one of the organisers. “A festival by the queer community has a different atmosphere, when compared to other film festivals. Those associated with the community are aware of the atmosphere… but it is imperative for a more mainstream audience to witness it, in order to create awareness in the society,” said Joshi.
One of the highlights of this year’s festival is the film ‘Koti’, which was previously screened at the 2016 International Film Festival of India. The film narrates the daily struggles of a rural transgender child and the endless social dilemma of his family.
‘Fish Curry’ (Macher Jhol), an animated short film that is also part of the festival, portrays the difficulties of coming out and receiving parental acceptance.
‘Na Yeti Uttare’, a cineplay that was staged before mainstream audiences for a few years before being scrapped, will also make a comeback this year. It focuses on the problems faced by two gay college students who are in a relationship.
A documentary, ‘All About Love’, takes a closer look into how homosexuality is perceived by society through interviews with a cross-section of people.
Bindumadhav Khire, president of Sampathik Trust, which has organised the festival, said the kind of change that can be brought through films is “unmatched”. “We are trying to make this an annual event as everyone — parents, media, police, stakeholders — must be sensitised towards issues pertaining to the LGBTQ community. Films are an important medium of educating the masses and they also provide a platform for Indian filmmakers,” said Khire.
On the challenges of organising the festival, Khire said, “We had come up with our own short film, ‘Avahaan’, a few years ago, which is being showcased this year. It had been rejected earlier for no specific reason… the budget of the festival also remains a challenge, despite the funds raised from the trust’s savings, the organisation ‘Being Equal’, and members of the community.”