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Dialogues of the queer

It’s time to celebrate your sexuality — that is the message of the sixth edition of Dialogues, the annual Calcutta Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender film and video festival that began on Friday at Max Mueller Bhavan.

The festival, organised by Sappho for Equality and Pratyay Gender Trust in collaboration with Goethe Institut, ends on Sunday. On show are 43 feature films, documentaries and short films. The list includes mainstream films like Rituparno Ghosh’s Chitrangada: The Crowning Wish and Onir’s I Am and short films from two major festivals — Berlinale and Dresden Short Film Festival.

Day One saw actress June declare the festival open with the world premiere of Guide Gufran, a feature film by promising 22-year-old painter-film-maker Ayushman Mitra .

“Where love is concerned age is no bar. Similarly where love is concerned gender should be no bar,” June said to a packed house before the screening. Fashion designer Nil of Dev R Nil fame anchored the show.

Guide Gufran is a story of self-discovery of the central character Pasha (played by Mitra). The latter meets Gufran the guide in Calcutta where he seeks spiritual sanctuary. Gufran acts as a catalyst in his journey of self acceptance. Filmed guerrilla style, Guide Gufran, was partly funded by the proceeds from the sale of paintings by the director. The film will be screened again at 5pm on the last day of the festival.

Chitrangada will be screened at 6.45pm on Sunday. An English documentary to look out for on Day Three (at 10am) is Izzatnagari ki Asabhya Betiyan by Nakul Singh Sawhney. It deals with the stories of five young Jat women who dared to resist the Khaps and their diktats.

The Berlinale shorts include 7 Deadly Kisses from Indonesia, As They Say from Morocco/UAE/Argentina, Loxoro from Spain/Peru/Argentina and The Man That Got Away from Canada. All of them will be screened on Sunday.

Tracing the journey of the festival since its modest start in 2007, Malabika of Sappho for Equality said at the launch: “It was heartening to see a queue outside today. This is not just another film festival. It is also a platform to create awareness. Nowadays so many young film-makers are focusing on LGBT issues. We want to start the dialogue. Sexuality is so much more than just sex and procreation. It’s about recreation and celebration too.”

“We have showcased many independent films from India and abroad. That’s one aspect of the festival we would like to continue with. Independent film-makers face enormous challenges to secure resources. The struggle becomes doubly difficult when the subject is queer-oriented,” said Anindya Hajra of Pratyay Gender Trust, one of the co-organisers of the festival.

After the screening of the inaugural film, there was a question-answer session between Mitra and the audience, followed by cocktails.