The seventh edition of Reel Desires: Chennai International Queer Film Festival (CIQFF) 2019 will begin on Friday, August 2. This three-day festival will feature 26 films from 12 countries in addition to a panel discussion on LGBTQA+ rights after the NALSA and Johar Supreme Court verdicts. The festival will also feature the Chennai premiere of a multilingual play titled Freedom Begum - In Search of Lost Stories by Raahi, a Bengaluru-based group of sexual and gender minorities.
The films featured this year are from Berlinale Spotlight (Berlin International Film Festival), Germany, and Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT).
This edition celebrates being the first such festival in Chennai since the landmark 2018 Supreme Court decision that decriminalised Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. CIQFF 2019 is organised by Orinam and Goethe-Institut, working in partnership with Nirangal, Chennai Queer CafĂ© (CQC), SAATHII, and East-West Center for Counselling and Training.
The festival will begin with a tribute to late Dr Shankar Ganesan, an active volunteer in the community and he also taught at Vellore Institute of Technology's (VIT) Business School in Chennai. â€śHeâ€™s been volunteering with the community for over 10 years and for the film festival since its beginning. He was a survivor of bullying as a school and college student and so as a certified social worker, he has supported quite a few young people who have been affected by bullying. He is a very special person and became a fixture in our volunteer team over the years. His loss has been tragic,â€ť says L Ramakrishnan from the NGO SAATHII, which is part of the film festival curating team. Professor Ganesan passed away in Chennai on July 24, aged 50.
The curated list has been selected from over 120 entries that began coming in since April this year. â€śWe publicised it online using social media. 25 to 30 of the films were from India. I think Section 377 being read down has probably spurred some interest in filmmaking but not that it wasnâ€™t there earlier. Weâ€™re seeing more submissions of films made in India this year, most of them made during the last 4-5 months,â€ť he shares.
Over the years, CIQFF has made a mark for itself, by becoming an eagerly awaited festival in the country. â€śThereâ€™s good word of mouth we feel. Chennai is also featured in one of the international databases of Queer Film Festivals along with Bengaluru, KASHISH (Mumbai) and Dialogues (Kolkata),â€ť Ramakrishnan adds.
Miss Man, a Bengali short film by Tathagata Ghosh, NjĂˇn SĂˇnjo (Iâ€™m SĂˇnjo), a Malayalam short film by Jijo Kuriakose and Oruvanukku Oruththi? (A woman for a man?). a Tamil short by Vimal Santiagu will see the respective filmmakers in attendance, open for discussions after the screening.
Other films you can add to your list are:
Song Lang (Vietnamese):
A feature film which explores an unlikely bond that forms between an underground debt collector and a cai luong (Vietnamese opera) performer against the backdrop of Saigon in the 1980s.
Dicke MĂ¤dchen (Heavy Girls):
A German feature centered around two men who become drawn to each other in unexpected ways while searching for one's wandering, senile mother.
A film which depicts a 14-year-old boy in an isolated Peruvian village whose life is turned upside down when he accidentally discovers his troubled father's secret.
This community-supported event will be held at Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan in Chennai. For more details, visit their Facebook page.