The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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On the wings of a rainbow
- Film fest, music video, awards and a march to mark gay pride week

Being in the sexual minority is not just an issue of a choice of partner, because that choice comes with strings of stigma and suffering attached. But there are some lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups working towards a change. In Calcutta, one such organisation is SAATHII. In collaboration with two other NGOs, Amitie and Swikriti, and with support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, London, SAATHII is hosting the Siddhartha Gautam Film Festival from June 20 to 25.

Held in honour of the Delhi-based lawyer, an HIV/AIDS activist and advocate for sexual minorities, who died at age 28 of cancer in 1992, the film festival was first organised in Calcutta in 2000. Since then, the numbers have grown. This year, it's making the first foray outside Calcutta. On June 21, it will be held in Chandernagore, under the guidance of Amitie.

Also a first this year is a music video on the issue, put together with the members of Bangla band Cactus, called Pokkhiraaj (The Pegasus). Apart from being broadcast over TV and radio, VCDs of the song will also be distributed. Another first is the television programme Out On TV, to be telecast on Bangla Akhon. It comprises a series of interviews with LGBT people, those who have worked with them and public figures.

The films to be screened as part of Rainbow Pride Week include high-profile films like My Brother... Nikhil, award-winners like Many People Many Desires (New York International Independent Film and Video Festival), personal stories like Piku Bhalo Aachhey (by a medical student) and documentaries like Kinnor (on the lives of cross-dressers and transgender dancers of Bihar and Bengal).

Again for the first time this year, is the SAATHII Rainbow film awards, for which around 100 individuals from different groups in West Bengal have voted.

The event will end in the Rainbow Pride Walk on June 26, the only one of its kind in India. Starting from Lake stadium, it will pass through Southern Avenue, Gol Park, Gariahat, Ballygunge and Park Circus. Around 1,000 people are expected to participate in Rainbow Pride Week.

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