The ninth edition of Reel Desires: Chennai International Queer Film Festival is being held  online over two weekends – Dec 4-5 and 11-12 of December 2021. Reel Desires features films, shorts and documentaries showcasing sexuality and gender diversity issues.  This year’s line-up consists of 16 films from 8 countries, selected via a community-led review process.

The principal organizers of CIQFF 2021 are Orinam and Goethe-Institut, working in collaboration with Nirangal Charitable Trust, Chennai Queer Café (CQC), SAATHII, and East-West Center for Counselling and Training.

Highlights among shorts include Libre: A Celebration of Queer Body (2021) by Arthur Lopes,  Sivanum Mohiniyum (2020) by Ramakaushalyan, My Mother’s Girlfriend  (2021) by Arun Phulara, Do I know You? (2021)  by  Rioghnach Ni Ghrioghair, and Maccher Jhol (2018)) by Abhishek Verma.

The feature films include The First Summer (2020) an Australian coming of age film written and directed by Katie Found; and Futur Drei/No Hard Feelings (2020) directed by Faraz Shariat, on the experiences of queer migrants trying to find belongingness in Germany.

CIQFF will also host the India and South Asia premier of Emergence: Out of the Shadows, a documentary on the struggle for identity and familial acceptance among queer South Asians in Canada.

On Sunday Dec 5, 2021, the screening of Emergence: Out of the Shadows, will be followed by a panel virtual discussion on queer and trans families, featuring panelists who are members of natal families and families of choice.

On Sunday, December 11, 2021, there will be a dramatic reading of a play titled ‘Journey from A to E and more’ in Tamil, English, Kannada, and Malayalam. Interspersed with strikingly diverse songs from Amir Khusrao poems to L.R. Eswari film hits, the play explores writer and performer Rumi Harish’s musical journey along with his lived experiences as a queer transgender man.

As LGBTIQA+ collectives in India work to expand inclusion and reduce discrimination on the ground, CIQFF is also working to engender change in hearts and minds, a task substantially more challenging than legal reform. One way to do this is by participating in and producing cultures that reflect both the universality and specificity of our experiences.