Walking the line

The second edition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Film and Video Festival highlighted the lack of knowledge about a community that continues to be shunned, writes Soma Basu

A few words opened a window that looked away from the mundane world we live in. Dialogues, the second annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Film and Video Festival of Calcutta, presented by Sappho For Equality and Pratyay Gender Trust, was quite different from the other film festivals our city hosts.As prelude a short film about the journey of a transgender for her identity was screened. Love is universal. It is free from shackles of age, distance, sex and gender. Almost all the movies screened at Max Mueller Bhavan vouched for it. The two-day festival revolved around lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender feature films and had a section for Indian short films and videos from experimental, amateur and professional filmmakers. A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our languageAnd language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably.~Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical InvestigationThe audience comprised people both conforming and nonconforming to LGBT group. Dialogues started with the screening of The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (by Auraeus Solito), a Filipino film on coming of age of a 12-year-old gay. The film is a winner of 12 awards, including best feature film in Berlin International Film Festival in 2006. Fried Green Tomatoes (USA), directed by Jon Avnet, that was nominated for the Academy Award for best actress in a supporting role, was also screened. Other movies that were screened included Hong Kong’s Lan Yu (directed by Stanley Kwan), Happy Together (directed by Wong Kar Wai), The Gymnast (USA, directed by Ned Farr) and But I am a Cheerleader (directed by Jamie Babbit). The Indian short film selection of six movies was the main attraction of the festival. With movies like Women In Love, directed by Shai Venkataraman, To Be Me, by Avilasha Khanna, Adil Chandiwala, Anand Changali, Gazal Dhaliwal, Nimrat Dhillon and Yashodhara Dattar, Avachetan by Manisha Dwivedi, Who Can Speak Of Men by Ambarien Al Gadar, Gazala Yasmin and Nihal, Antahin by Biswajit Sarkar, Kantatar by Debalina, delved into lesbian and gay lives, trans-sexualism and sex reassignment. Antahin was based on the Bengali novel Mayamridanga, written by Sajad Mujtaba. Antonia’s Line, a Dutch movie by Marleen Gorris, winner of the 1996 Academy Award for Best foreign Language film, was also screened. The festival ended with the renowned Spanish movie, Strawberry And Chocolate (Fresa y chocolate) by legendary Cuban director Tomas Gierrez Alea, based on a story by Senel Paz. Fresa y Chocolate was the first Cuban film to be nominated for an Oscar (Best Foreign Language Film of 1995). Dialogues was more of a confluence of ideas and possibilities. “I have come here since it is important to know beyond what is ‘made’ known to us,” said Aritra, a student, who attended the festival.

A few words opened a window that looked away from the mundane world we live in. Dialogues, the second annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Film and Video Festival of Calcutta, presented by Sappho For Equality and Pratyay Gender Trust, was quite different from the other film festivals our city hosts.As prelude a short film about the journey of a transgender for her identity was screened. Love is universal. It is free from shackles of age, distance, sex and gender. Almost all the movies screened at Max Mueller Bhavan vouched for it. The two-day festival revolved around lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender feature films and had a section for Indian short films and videos from experimental, amateur and professional filmmakers. A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our languageAnd language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably.~Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical InvestigationThe audience comprised people both confirming and nonconforming to LGBT group. Dialogues started with the screening of The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (by Auraeus Solito), a Filipino film on coming of age of a 12-year-old gay. The film is a winner of 12 awards, including best feature film in Berlin International Film Festival in 2006. Fried Green Tomatoes (USA), directed by Jon Avnet, that was nominated for the Academy Award for best actress in a supporting role, was also screened. Other movies that were screened included Hong Kong’s Lan Yu (directed by Stanley Kwan), Happy Together (directed by Wong Kar Wai), The Gymnast (USA, directed by Ned Farr) and But I am a Cheerleader (directed by Jamie Babbit). The Indian short film selection of six movies was the main attraction of the festival. With movies like Women In Love, directed by Shai Venkataraman, To Be Me, by Avilasha Khanna, Adil Chandiwala, Anand Changali, Gazal Dhaliwal, Nimrat Dhillon and Yashodhara Dattar, Avachetan by Manisha Dwivedi, Who Can Speak Of Men by Ambarien Al Gadar, Gazala Yasmin and Nihal, Antahin by Biswajit Sarkar, Kantatar by Debalina, delved into lesbian and gay lives, trans-sexualism and sex reassignment. Antahin was based on the Bengali novel Mayamridanga, written by Sajad Mujtaba. Antonia’s Line, a Dutch movie by Marleen Gorris, winner of the 1996 Academy Award for Best foreign Language film, was also screened. The festival ended with the renowned Spanish movie, Strawberry And Chocolate (Fresa y chocolate) by legendary Cuban director Tomas Gierrez Alea, based on a story by Senel Paz. Fresa y Chocolate was the first Cuban film to be nominated for an Oscar (Best Foreign Language Film of 1995). Dialogues was more of a confluence of ideas and possibilities. “I have come here since it is important to know beyond what is ‘made’ known to us,” said Aritra, a student, who attended the festival.

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