When debut filmmakers Judhajit Bagchi and Ranadeep Bhattacharya wanted to release their short-film Amen, a love story between two men, they faced many challenges from the Censor Board of India. “To counter those, we made another small presentation video showing the world the Censor Board's bias against the LGBT community. We gathered a lot of attention and support and finally our film was passed,” says Mumbai-based Bagchi.
Now their film, along with six other films based on the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) issues, will be showcased at one of the oldest theatres in London –– The Old Cinema on Regent Street –– as a part of the initiative by India Media Centre at the University of Westminster. The initiative, spearheaded by filmmaker Sridhar Rangayan, will attempt to showcase contemporary Indian LGBT-themed films worldwide to raise awareness and promote discussions.
Rangayan, who will also showcase his critically acclaimed 2003 film The Pink Mirror, says, “I am tremendously excited to screen the films at one of Britain’s oldest theatres. It is a great honour for our films to be screened in the same theatre where Lumière Brothers showcased their film in 1896.” He will also screen a trailer of his under production documentary Breaking Free, a film that strings together the LGBT community’s experiences — pre and post the 2009 judgement, which decriminalised same-sex behaviour among consenting adults.
Rangayan’s films, along with award winning short-films from Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival like Bagchi and Bhattacharya's Amen, Nakshatra’s Logging Out, Pradipta Ray’s Raat Baaki, among others will be screened at the Old Cinema. “What else do you want when your first film –– which began with almost no money –– is doing the rounds of various countries? I am so happy that our films will reach the European audience and am looking forward to their response,” says director Nakshatra.
“India is at the cross roads in its LGBT movement and some of these films here reflect the struggle of coming to terms with one’s sexuality and gender role in the context of an Indian identity. We hope that this improves participation and involvement of world cinema in India as well,” says Pallav Patankar, co-festival director of Kashish.
Rangayan’s other stopovers in UK are a screening of clips from his own films and discussion with students at University of Sussex and then at the University of West London. “I want to talk about the new ‘queer India’, which I think is moving from grappling with identities to expressing it through cultural outputs,” says Rangayan.
The films will be screened till November 30 in London, and then will be taken to Ireland, Poland and Sweden as a part of other initiatives.