A collection of Chennai-based collectives and NGOs working on gender and sexuality, in partnership with Goethe-Institut Chennai | Max Mueller Bhavan, brings you Reel Desires: Chennai International Queer Film Festival (CIQFF) from July 28 to 30, 2017. Reel Desires is a three-day series of feature films, shorts and documentaries showcasing sexuality and gender diversity issues. In its fifth year, Reel Desires CIQFF2017 is the latest in a series of over 12 queer film festivals curated by various groups over the years in Chennai since 2004.
The principal organizers of CIQFF2017 are Orinam, a local collective that has been working since 2003 to end discrimination and provide social and support spaces for the LGBTIQA+ communities in Chennai, Goethe-Institut and several community groups and NGOs including Nirangal, RIOV, SAATHII, and East-West Center for Counselling and Training.
The 27 films selected for this year, from nearly 70 submissions, include shorts, documentaries and feature length films from 12 countries. They chronicle the global struggle for rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, genderfluid, intersex, asexual and other queer people; and examine the intersections of queer issues with gender, class, disability and HIV status.
Feature film highlights include Siebzehn (Seventeen), an evocative film on queer desire in rural Austria, and Abar Jodi Ichchha Karo (If you dare desire), Debalina’s creative reimagining of the lives and loves of Swapna and Sucheta and other such queer women in West Bengal who have succumbed to lesbophobia and misogyny over the years.
All About Our Famila (2012): an exploration of the life and activism of the late Bengaluru-based hijra activist Famila, and Ladies and Gentlewomen (2016): Malini Jeevarathnam’s pioneering documentary on women loving women in Tamil Nadu, are among the notable documentaries screening at CIQFF2017.
Intersections of sexuality, gender, class, caste and/or race are explored in Jayan Cherian’s Ka Bodyscapes and in Mexa (Stand), a performative documentary on diverse populations in homeless or vulnerable situations – LGBTQIA, women, young, black, homeless, disabled and itinerant – in São Paulo, Brazil.
Besides films, Reel Desires will also feature a dance performance by Taejha Singh, a panel discussion South of the Norm: LGBTIQA+ activism in southern India, and an excerpt from Srijith Sundaram’s Manjal, a recently debuted play on the struggle to eradicate manual scavenging in India.
Reel Desires is a reminder of our common humanity, which transcends boundaries of sexuality, gender identity and culture, and exists in solidarity with other struggles for social justice.