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A gathering that started for the love of movies, mattresses and madness, will enter its tenth year in August 2019. Bangalore Queer Film Festival or BQFF was conceptualised in 2009 when a group of co-directors and film enthusiasts arranged a film festival called 'Bangalored' at Attakkalari studios in Wilson Garden.
Little did they know about the growth and exposure this small meet-up would gain over time. "What started out as a very small event and became a very anticipated event," said Rovan Varghese, a co-director associated with BQFF. The festival continued gaining momentum as more and more film-makers submitted their works each year. The four-day long fest will feature 73 feature films, short films and documentaries representing 27 countries this year.
"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," reminisces Namita Aavitri, the curator and coordinator of BQFF.
It is scheduled to screen films from countries like Iran, Lebanon, Papua New Guinea, Austria, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and India. The coordinators also make sure to showcase the work of at least one film-maker from Bangalore every year. Bangalore-based directors Christy Raj, Mujeer Pasha and Veena Kulkarni have been chosen for 2019.
"Initially, the movies we got were very West-leaning," said Joshua Muyiwa, a co-director who has been a part of this initiative for the very beginning. However, the festival has evolved with a plethora of submissions poured in every year from Indian film-makers.
Apart from film screening, the event will also witness art exhibition, one-act play and poetry readings by queer and allied artists and poets. They have simultaneously arranged panel-discussions with the goal to spread awareness about queer lives and culture. "Through the kind of films we screen, we want to expand the idea of what a queer film is," mentions co-organiser Nadika Nadja. "BQFF wants to start a conversation with the city about queer themes and politics", she adds.
It's the day! pic.twitter.com/Foae5uG7M9— BLR Queer Film Fest (@bqff) August 1, 2019
Arranging a queer film festival in India has not been easy, as the LGBTQ community here were deprived of their human rights for the longest time. However, with the landmark verdict that decriminalised homosexuality, change is becoming evident gradually. "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".
The festival has grown beyond expectations, "There are definitely lots of people who come back every year," said Nadika Nadja. Its increasing popularity indicates the progress our society is making towards acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ community.
For the schedule of BQFF, click here