Hyderabad Queer Film Festival 2021 a big success

Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Queer Film Festival hosted its 4th event on Tuesday (12/12/2021) at Annapoorna Studios in Hyderabad that brings many veterans and new filmmakers bring the diversity of lived experiences to the screen. The festival initially happened in 2012 followed by 2014, 2017 and now in 2021.

The film festival kicked off with Gulabi Aaina, a queer classic film, directed by Sridhar Rangayan, followed by a locally made film directed by Eunoia and produced by Mobbera Foundation called Naz. Other films in the festival include Ajay, Miss Man, Shikandi, Amar Prem, Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh, Knock Knock, I Know Her, U for Usha, Evening Shadows, and Sisak. The festival closed with the much-acclaimed film by Faraz Arif Ansari, titled “Sheer Qorma.”

Hyderabad Queer Film Festival 2021 a big success
Gulabi Aina aka The Pink Mirror.

The festival was flagged off by the festival director Moses Tulasi, Sridhar Rangayan both filmmakers and Tashi, a Buddhist queer-activist and a social worker. Tashi said, “Cinema is a powerful medium that queer filmmakers have started using to engage with the outside world and this is just the beginning”. The festival screened a total of 13 films, including a short film Knock Knock in memory of late filmmaker and critic Mahesh Kathi.

“We need movies like these to bring our stories to light,” said several LGBT folks who attended the festival. “While we all know that queer people’s lives are difficult yet rich with human emotions, these stories have been neglected by the mainstream media. So, we are using this platform to give voice to our communities and celebrate their stories in all their richness.” said the allies.

Moses Tulasi, the festival director, said “queer-themed subjects are often dealt in isolation of socio-cultural and political factors and this is not a true representation of our complex society, hence a conscious decision has been made during the curation of films this year to pick stories that narrate queerness in the context of class, caste and religion identity locations.”

One of the key movies screened at the festival, Sheer Qorma, has also been making waves in the film circles. It stars some very popular actors – Shabana Azmi, Swara Baskar, and Divya Dutta, to name a few. The story revolves around the lives of queer children where religion, ethnicity, culture, and family bonds come in the way of acceptance of queerness in a Muslim family. The festival witnessed many young and old queer Muslim individuals and their allies. “Sheer Qorma” has attracted 300+ audience and hence the organizers had to screen multiple shows back to back. Several guests from Shabhana Azmi’s extended family and friends were also witnessed.

Hyderabad Queer Film Festival 2021 a big success
Sheer Qorma, the film

Evening Shadows, the other film about rediscovering parental love and acceptance written and directed by Sridhar Rangayan, is set in a small town in Southern India and depicts a universal story about a mother-son bond that is challenged when a son comes out to his conservative mother. Jayant Iyer who is the festival coordinator said, “Due to Covid pandemic, all the necessary precautions were followed” and thanked all volunteers and community sponsors for their support – Wajood Society, Queer Nilayam, Liberty Rebellion Organization, Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti, Mobbera Foundation and Dragvanti. The festival also gave a platform for performances by queer artists of which the highlights were a group tribal dance by Trans Equality Society and Sufi Kathak by Smitten.

Hyderabad Queer Film Festival 2021 a big success
Evening Shadows

While queer cinema still needs to find a strong foothold in the mainstream movie community, events such as these, featuring some of the best talents in filmmaking, are critical to increasing acceptance in society. They also enable queer people to feel heard and appreciated for the struggles and victories they face in their lives.

Hyderabad Queer Film Festival 2021 a big success
Tribal Performers from the Trans Equality society

The organizers acknowledged the very important role Annapurna Studios has been playing by being a staunch ally of the festival ever since 2012 despite several threats from right-wing individuals and parties. Filmmakers Faraz Arif Ansari, Sridhar Rangayan and Neeraj Churi were in attendance at the festival.