Blued, a gay dating and social networking app that has actively been involved in supporting and encouraging the LGBTQ community, announced Outcast By Birth, Khwaaish and The Holy Mother as the winners to Blued Queer Films Festival and The Mirror and Inaayat as runners up amongst the shortlisted movies at the Russian Science Centre.
Blued Queer Flicks (BQF) was put together with the aim to promote LGBTQ community and encourage their talent. A total of 60 movies had come in for the contest; only 10 were shortlisted as finalists. The shortlisted movies address issues like gay love, trans-struggles, societal stigma, GBTQ (Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) issues, faith in love, acceptance and awareness and dreams and desire.
"I'm honoured to be here today. This battle has just started and we need to touch upon more people within the communities when it comes to discrimination and Right to live freely. The Representation of the LGBTQI community has always been shown in poor light, the times are changing and the society needs to change for the greater good", stated Anjali Gopolan, Founder and Executive Director of the Naz Foundation.
"UNAIDS wishes to thank the leadership of Blued on this very special occasion, a day of celebration of Human Rights, Social Justice and Equality, indeed this is an opportunity to pave the way so that anything we are doing for these values will not leave anyone behind, " said Bilali Camara, Country Director of UNAIDS for India.
These 10 movies were then published on Blued's Social network where users could vote their favourite movie. The 5 movies that were screened are Blued's users' choice. The names of the movies are as follows:
1. Outcast by Birth: Outcast by birth attempts to showcase the current scenario of LGBT in urban India and the social problems faced by the many Indians who consider themselves LGBT by birth. Directed by Shruti Kulkarni
2. Khwaaish: Khwaaish or desire is an India LGBTQIA + themed short film that seeks to show a glimpse of the life of a young middle-aged guy desire to find a same-sex companion in a city that continues to refuse. Directed by Sumit Pawar
3. The Holy Mother: the suffering of trans-women to becomes a mother. The plot is knitted with the struggle of a transwomen mother who puts her life at stake to give birth to her son and grapple to see his son. Directed by Pravin Vinzz
4. The Mirror: The film explores the struggles of the transgender community in terms of self-acceptance and pride. It captures the life of a transgender individual. Directed by Yadvendra Singh
5. Inaayat: This film explores the queerness of Roy and his relationship with his mother. What did it take her mother to accept a song who did not fulfil the set notions of compulsory heterosexuality? Directed by Navin Tokas
"It's exhilarating to see so many voices coming together for one common goal, Representation of LGBTQI, to make BQF a success. I'm hoping, next year when we do open BQF contest again, the community will be ready to make bold statements. It's at times like this, we, Blued, as an organisation takes great pride in bringing the community together", said Yujun, Country Manager - India, Blued.
"BQF is a great initiative and there need to be more conversations through various platforms. With Section 377 gone for good, we need to cultivate more dialogues at schools, at workplaces and at homes to spread awareness about cultural issues", stated Shilpi Marwaha, Director of Sukhmanch and Director of Lihaaf, a play that was performed at BQF.
BQF also hosted a discussion on the 'LGBTQI representation in Arts and Cinema' panellist member's Sylvestar Merchant Lakshya Trust; Gautam Yadav Youth Lead; Himadri Roy IGNOU; Rudrani Chettri Managing Director, MitrTrust, CBO; Firoz Khan India HIV/AIDS Alliance; Advaita Kala, Columnist Dhaka Tribune and Yahoo
Adviaita Kala, Columnist Dhaka Tribune and Yahoo, opined that if cinema has to move forward, human emotions need to be extracted to showcase stories away from stereotypes.
"The Indian cinema has always shown men fighting more for their rights. Take any Bengali or North Eastern movies; the relationship lesbian characters have never been displayed or never really emphasised. The Role of lesbians and queer people in the society has been more prominent post the SC judgment in 2018 and we'll get to see more of it in the coming years", stated Himadri Roy, IGNOU.
"Lesbians could be mothers, sisters, daughters; these roles have never been shown and haven't brought to the limelight until Section 377 was struck down. Censorship is the largest barrier that doesn't allow issues like lesbians and queer conversations and roles to come to the limelight", opined Firoz Khan, India HIV/AIDS Alliance.
"Sexuality and HIV issues need to be emphasised and I strongly believe that theatre and Cinema can help in removing the stigmas and help empower people with HIV", opined Gautam Yadav, Youth Lead.
"Drag is a new concept that has come into India and the queer orientation is not understood or misunderstood and Cinema, Arts and Theatre plays a huge role in uplifting these orientations and talk about these issues", stated Rudrani Chettri, Managing Director, MiTrTrust, CBO.
"It's been a privilege to do something that India and Indians love and associate with, Cinema. Conversations that are difficult always find a way to be addressed through cinema and arts. I'm elated to say that through Blued, BQF, as an initiative has successfully been able to deliver the message that India needs more platforms to showcase the LGBTQI community and their talent. Cinema as a medium allows the LGBTQI community to reach general masses and educate them about LGBTQI masses and their rights", stated Sanyam Sharma, Marketing Director, Blued.
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