British Council announces the Digital Pride Festival featuring #MoreFilmsForFreedom

In celebration of global Pride Month in June, British Council presents #MoreFilmsForFreedom, a global collection of three short films that showcase new filmmaking voices supporting creative collaborations which explore LGBTIQ+ themes.

This will be part of theDigital Pride Festival #prideathome,in partnership with The Queer Muslim Project, which brings together a set of extraordinary voices online from the queer art and cultural scene in India and the UK through film, dance, music and theatre to discuss and celebrate the spirit of inclusion.

#MoreFilmsForFreedom is commissioned by the British Council, BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival and BFI NETWORK and offers international audiences a chance to watch from their homes a selection of three distinctive and diverse queer-themed short films by Syrian, Palestinian and South African filmmakers from June to September. Each film explores diverse themes including sexuality and conflict, intergenerational gay culture, migration and family ties.

While Indian cities celebrate Pride at different times of the year, the Global Pride Month allows for visibility and awareness of LGBTIQ+ issues in India. With Pride events being cancelled or postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, organisers around the world are pivoting to virtual mediums to celebrate LGBTIQ+ rights, take digital actions and demonstrate solidarity. The Digital Pride Festival has an exciting range of events from 15 to 28 June.

Jonathan Kennedy, British Council Director Arts India, says: “In the Covid-19 lockdown, we have all experienced isolation in different ways. During this challenging time, we hope the Digital Pride Festival #prideathome will unify many diverse communities in celebration of LGBTIQ+ arts to celebrate Pride Month and LGBTIQ+ culture in India. The online festival is part of the British Council’s #MoreFilmsForFreedom global project. It’s fabulous to work with such a trusted partner and advocate as The Queer Muslim Project, who bring to the festival an amazing range of artists, voices and art forms from India and UK on this digital platform. The British Council is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, and foster safe and enabling spaces for creative expression, exchange and enterprise, these values are imbued in the spirit of the #prideathome digital festival.”

Rafiul Alom Rahman, Founder/Director of The Queer Muslim Project, says: “The Digital Pride Festival hosted by British Council and The Queer Muslim Project is a celebration of love, equality and freedom in these times of a global pandemic. Through the #prideathome showcase, we hope to offer LGBTIQ+ persons and allies an opportunity to sit at home and relish the joys of queer art, storytelling, culture and community all through the month of June. As South Asia’s largest virtual network of LGBTIQ+ Muslims and allies, we also recognise the need to center queer artist voices and promote positive, affirming and intersectional representations of our communities – now, more than ever. And the British Council has been an excellent partner in this regard.”

The Digital Pride Festival events will be held on the British Council India Instagram and Facebook page.

#MoreFilmsForFreedom builds on the success of the #FiveFilms4Freedom digital campaign, which originated in 2015 as a partnership between BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival and the British Council, and which has generated views from nearly 14 million people in 202 countries and principalities since 2015. #MoreFilmsForFreedom can be watched on the British Council Arts YouTube Channel.

In addition, as part of the Digital Pride Festival, the British Council’s social media channels will also feature queer art initiatives. This includes Almarii, an archive of South Asian queer closet narrative, the Aravani Art Project, a collective movement working to enable the transgender community through visual arts, socially inclusive experiments and magic, Dalit Queer Project, a collaborative space for all people Dalit and queer and Veer Misra, queer artist from Delhi.