The first edition of Vaanavil Thirai: Kovai Queer Film Festival ( KQFF) showcases six films from India and three international films that provide an insight into the diverse lives and challenges of the LGBTQIA+ community across different socio-economic strata.
The KQFF 2019 is organised by Queerbatore (LGBTQIA) in partnership with Orinam.net, Nirangal, and Chennai Queer Cafe. “The festival brings three international films from The Netherlands, Spain and France and six Indian films (two Malayalam, one Bengali and three Tamil). The films are directed by the members of the community and they have also acted in it,” says Ellinathan, a volunteer with Queerbatore.
While the Dutch film In Something About Alex directed by Reinout Hellenthal deals with a troubled and isolated teenager who finds a true friend in his sister’s boyfriend, Hendrik; the Malayalam narrative documentary Njan Sanjo by Jijo Kuriakose documents Sánjo, a dynamic young man in a transphobic suburban locality and his struggles with gender identity, and lack of inclusive space. “The festival attempts to bring clarity in the way the LGBTQIA is portrayed in the mainstream media. If you have a role written for a transwoman, then get a transwoman to play it,” insists Ellinathan.
Through Vanavil Thirai, Queerbatore attempts to initiate a dialogue around gender and sexuality in our everyday lives. This festival will also help rethink visual portrayals of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression in mainstream media. “Queeraboter has been screening films for the last five years,” says Ellinathan, “but, this is the first time we are hosting a film festival to take the dialogue forward on inclusion.”
The festival features discussions where members and other organisations involved in social justice and equality discuss the rights of the community, online safety, and handling crisis situations. Transgender issues, entrepreneurial options, and challenges and discrimination faced by queer people and finding solutions to them will be part of the event.