Reel Desires: Chennai International Queer Film Festival 2015, will be held from July 24 to 26 at the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan in Chennai. The festival will screen 23 films from eight countries, showcasing sexuality and gender diversity issues. The focus of the festival is to make mainstream audiences aware of lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) issues.
The highlight of the festival is the 2014 Cannes award winner Pride, which is based on a true story of lesbian and gay youth helping families affected by the British miners’ strike in 1984. The event will also screen four shorts and music videos (part of the Songs of the Caravan album) made by transgender women from Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Manipur.
The festival will also screen Aakkamum Thaakkamum (portrayals of transgender women in Tamil Cinema), a short documentary compilation of transphobic scenes from Tamil cinema over the past few years, including Shankar’s controversial film I. The screening will be followed by a one-hour panel discussion on ‘Free Speech and Creative Expression’, focusing on the tensions between safeguarding creative expression in cinema and opposing negative portrayals of LGBTQI people.
Notable documentaries include: Bozja Napaka (God’s Mistake), an account of a transwoman’s life growing up as a child in Yugoslavia; Gay Healers, an expose of reparative therapy in present-day Germany; Mondial 2010, a video-journal of a Lebanese gay couple on a road trip to Ramallah; Our Marriages, describing the lives of four lesbians in contract marriages with gay men in China; and, Purple Skies, an account of the struggles and triumphs of lesbian, bi women, and trans men in India
The festival is organized by the Goethe-Institut in association with Orinam, a collective working to end gender- and sexuality- based discrimination, along with a number of Chennai-based NGOs and collectives such as Nirangal, RIOV, Nir, SAATHII, and East-West Center for Counselling. The full schedule for the festival can be found here. Queer-themed film festivals have been held in the city since November 2004.