Queer chronicles on the silver screen

Organised by Orinam and Goethe-Institut, in collaboration with Nirangal Charitable Trust and SAATHII, CIQFF 2022 has 22 films from eight countries
Representational image
Representational image

A lot has changed on the LGBTQIA+ front in the last decade. Conversations about pronouns, identities and sexuality have increasingly seeped into the mainstream, even if slowly. And perhaps one of the most interesting documentation of this has been through film, some of which will be featured in the upcoming Reel Desires: Chennai International Queer Film Festival that will mark its tenth anniversary. 

With its first edition in 2013, CIQFF has maintained its objective to enhance awareness of sexuality and gender diversity by curating films focussing on the generality and specificity of queer experiences across genders and countries. “One might find CIQFF an eye opener to the world of queerness, where normalcy is not necessarily what one thinks or has been taught it to be. Our sexualities and gender identities are a lot more fluid than we were told and do not fit in any boxes, let alone binary ones,” say the volunteer team from Orinam.

Onscreen offers

This year, entries from Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, India and more have made it to the line-up, including two feature-length documentaries Zuhur’s Daughters (Germany: 2021) by Laurentia Genske and Robin Humboldt that showcases the complex lives of trans women Lohan and Samar, who fled Syria with their family and the life that followed in Germany, and Blooming on the Asphalt (Brazil: 2022) by Coraci Ruiz that follows the journey of a teenage trans boy, Jack. 

Another feature film, Valentine @3, by Chennai-based filmmaker Mani Shankar Iyer will close out the film festival. The film displays the stories of three gay men at different stages of their journey. On November 12, there will also be a panel discussion hosting city activists, NGO and government-supported shelters’ staff and community members discussing the LGBTQIA+’s need for shelter and housing. 

Welcome all

Entry is not restricted to the  community. Allies, film aficionados and others are welcome to attend the shows. “Since this fest is returning in person after two years (it was online for the past two years), people from the LGBTQIA+ community will throng; there are people coming in from Bengaluru, Hyderabad and beyond. The other segment is people who are interested in the culture and films who, we hope, will eventually become supporters or allies.

For the community, we hope they will be able to recognise themselves and their struggles in the film and for others, we hope that (it brings the) culture, allyship and empathy,” shares L Ramakrishnan, SAATHII, while the volunteer team from Orinam adds, “For the community, we hope there is a sense of being represented on the screen, especially in a positive light; euphoria from having their day-to-day lives and struggles discussed and portrayed; and for allies, a deeper understanding or even an initiation into the world of the queer community and how to be better allies.”

The festival will be held at Goethe-Institut from November 11 to 13. Entry free. Adults only. Seating is first-come, first-served. For details, visit ciqff.org.

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