Q’nema - a specially curated collection of short films and documentaries that won awards and wowed the audience at the 3rd edition of the Mumbai International Queer Film Festival in 2012, was screened at IIT-Bombay.
The two day-screening, held on January 30-31, 2013, as part of the Queer Azaadi Mumbai – LGBT pride week celebrations in Mumbai, was aimed at creating awareness and sensitization on LGBTQ issues.
"We are sensitive to the audience and specially screened films that appealed to the youth", said Sridhar Rangayan, festival director of KASHISH and an IIT alumni himself. “In the 1980s when I was studying at IIT, there was a complete shroud of silence around this topic. I’m glad that my Alma Mater is now helping to raise awareness and sensitize people. It is time to sensitize the youth to be accepting of diversity”.
The two day screening at IIT drew an enthusiastic crowd of students, faculty members, research fellows and a large non-IIT audience who travelled all the way to Powai to see the films that they missed out at KASHISH 2012. The hall was packed and buzzed with enthusiastic laughter, whistles and applause after every film. Saraswati Kavula’s ‘My Dear Gay Teacher’ a documentary about out poet and literature professor Hoshang Merchant; and Rob William’s endearing romantic comedy ‘Make The Yuletide Gay’ were the toast of the event.
During a lively and animated Q&A, filmmakers Pradipta Ray and Nakshatra who won awards at KASHISH 2012 for ‘Raat Baaki’ and ‘Logging Out’ respectively talked about the challenges they faced making the films and the response they got.
Another highlight was the presence of Chinese filmmaker Yang Yang who presented her film ‘Our Story’, a documentary about the 10 difficult years of holding the Beijing Queer Film Festival against all odds in an extremely conservative country like China. KASHISH facilitated the filmmaker’s visit and screening as a pre-cursor to KASHISH 2013 where the Country Focus is China.
On the second day, Q’nema also hosted a panel discussion titled, ‘Snipping The Tale: the good, bad and ugly world of censorship’. The panel included Yang Yang, the Chinese filmmaker who talked about the strict censorship rules in China; Nivvedan, a IIT student and member of the LGBT campus group, who said that no censorship must be tolerated in any form; Rangayan who said that the Indian film industry is the main culprit of censorship because it doesn’t even allow films about LGBT issues to be made due to a stringent commercial outlook; and Richa Chadha, popular actress of Gangs of Wasseypur fame, who said that it is difficult for actors to accept LGBT roles because of the stereotyping that comes with it.
The rainbow flags and banners across IIT campus, the stalls of Queer Ink and Booty & Brains selling queer books, clothes and accessories added a lot of colour and vibrancy to the buoyant pride mood.
Aditya Shankar, a member of SAATHII, the LGBT campus group at IIT-B made sure that the turnout was fabulous with email blasts, facebook updates, posters spread all over IIT and even personal sms invites! Saagar Gupta, festival programmer, introduced the specially curated program. Harrish Iyer, moderating the sessions kept the audience laughing and asking for more with his wit and charm.