As the Bangalore Queer Film Festival turns ten, we look at the journey so far
Namita Aavriti, the curator and co-organiser of the Bangalore Queer Film Festival (BQFF), admits the fest has grown beyond what they hoped. “In the beginning, we imagined we would end up like a pirate screening in someone’s house, because it would be too hard or too expensive. But as LGBTQIA+ films have grown, so have we. And so has our support,” she says. This weekend, the BQFF will host its 10th edition with 73 films representing 27 countries, and a host of other events.
The movies on screen this year come from countries such as Iran, Lebanon, Papua New Guinea, Austria, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and India, and the fest boasts a larger focus on Asian movies. Expect titles such as Udalaazham, Njan Sanjo (Malayalam), Chedeng And Apple (Filipino), Song Lang (Vietnamese) and Meili (Taiwanese). There are also 42 short films such as Lack (Persian), Night Watch (Portuguese) and U Ushacha (Marathi). “Through the kind of films we screen, we want to expand the idea of what a queer film is,” says co-organiser Nadika Nadja, adding, “BQFF wants to start a conversation with the city about queer themes and politics.”
This conversation is created not just through the screenings, but also other events at the fest. On Saturday, there will be an art exhibition by artistes Aryan Ramakrishnan, Renuka Rajiv and Sandip Kuriakose. Also witness panel discussions, one-act play, Enathu Kural, by A Revathi and poetry readings by queer and allied poets. The newly opened Champaca bookstore will have a pop-up at the venue with books on related topics.
While a lot has changed in the past 10 years for the community, especially when it comes to laws, co-organiser and curator Nithin Manayath feels that this recognition also comes with some amount of backlash and restrictions that do not allow the stories to be communicated in depth. “We have always hoped that the film festival is a way to share our stories with their complexities intact, and not reduce or restrict them to the language of the law or of rights only,” he signs off.
Entry by registration. Until August 4. At Max Mueller Bhavan, Alliance Francaise and Bangalore International Centre