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THE BANGALORE QUEER FILM FESTIVAL 2014

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The Bangalore Queer Film Festival 2014 was held at the Alliance Française, Vasanthnagar, between 28th February and 2nd March, 2014. BQFF 2014 and screened 77 films, out of which 17 were from Indian filmmakers. The rest of the collection represented 24 countries from around the world. The line-up included a wide variety of features, shorts and documentaries. The opening night film Mía from Argentina was a story of transwoman Ale’s relationship with young Julie who has just lost her mother. The centrepiece consisted of two documentaries – Kortney Ryan Ziegler’s Still Black: A Portrait of Black Transmen, a documentary that showed the  inseparability of race and gender identity through the experiences of black transmen in the US; and The Invisible Men, a documentary on living a life of contradiction, of being three Palestinian men seeking refuge in Tel Aviv only to find that there’s not always somewhere to run to. The closing film, Out in East Berlin was a rich historical account of homosexual lives lived under the communist regime in what was East Germany or the German Democratic Republic.

The festival also included a world premiere—Sri Lankan filmmaker Visakesa Chandrasekaram’s Frangipani, a beautifully triangular tale of loves lost and journeys that, against all odds, seem to come full circle. Our “star” attraction was, of course, Mumbai Police, Rosshan Andrrews’ Malayalam detective thriller with actors Prithviraj, Jayasurya and Rahman keeping us on the edge of our seats. Our collection of short films included a package from the well-known Out in Africa film festival from South Africa. Another package, from Open Reel (an international films sales agency), was a fantastic selection of award winning short films and documentaries. Our South Asian documentaries this year included Saadat Munir’s Chuppan Chupai, a film on the tenuous and disorienting ways in which we pass through urban spaces, hiding and seeking at the same time; and Debalina’s ...Ebang Bewarish, on the suicides and unclaimed bodies of two young girls in Nandigram, West Bengal.

The festival also showcased two films by American avant-garde filmmaker Su Friedrich. The first one, Rules of the Road (1993), told the story of a love affair and its demise through one of an old beige station wagon, and the second film, Damned If You Don’t (1987) was a hypnotic black and white film exploring female desire and pleasure. Two of the other films in this section were P. Balan’s Aanpoovu (1996) and Deepa Krishnan and Rajiv Krishnan’s Paper Flowers (1998). BQFF 2014 also saw the India premiere of Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years, a documentary on lesbian, black, feminist, poet and activist Audre Lorde.

Our 2014 photography exhibition featured the work of photographers Pacifico Silano (USA), Alexander Karl Getsev (Russia), Jess T Dugan (USA) and Garima Jain’s series on boxer Mary Kom. There was also an art installation of postcards sent to the Supreme Court by LGBT people from around India. The first day’s performance was by Hindustani musician Sumathi. Called Sanchari, the performance wove a story around the Raag Kalyani. The second day offered a violin-piano-vocal performance, and also a reading by queer writers. The third day comprised of dance performances: two Bollywood shows, two lavanis, and of course, the popular Pink Divas dancers.