Platform for diversity: In 17th yr, India’s oldest LGBTQIA+ film fest returns to offline venue
Times of India | 20 November 2023
Kolkata: “It’s a space that keeps challenging me every time. And apart from the films, it’s the space that I take home with me each time,” said film-maker Sanjay Nag at the inauguration of the 17th edition of Dialogues, the city’s very own international LGBTQIA+ film and video festival, on Friday.
Nag’s words were echoed in the ambience and conversations at the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute main auditorium, which was the venue for the three-day festival this year.
“After two online editions in the aftermath of the pandemic, it has been a struggle to bring back India’s oldest queer film festival to a theatre this year with the paucity of funds and the failure to find a sponsor for a queer film festival. We went to every single-screen theatre in search of a venue but were told that our non-commercial venture would be non-profitable for them at a time when most were playing ‘Tiger 3’,” said Koyel Ghosh, managing trustee at Sappho and one of the people in charge of organising the event.
“We were grateful when SRFTI gave us the go-ahead, although the non-central location meant that some enthusiasts may have had to give it a miss this time,” Ghosh added.
A partnership between Sappho for Equality, Pratyay Gender Trust and the Goethe Institute/Max Mueller Bhavan, Dialogues has been an annual event in the city since 2007 and 25 films from 12 countries, including six documentaries and 14 short films, were part of the programme this year. “Dialogues was thought of as a non-commercial film festival and, despite hurdles, we have maintained it,” said Sappho founding member Malabika.
The 17th edition opened on Friday with Hannes Hirsch’s ‘Drifter’ that showcased the gay lifestyle in Berlin and had premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. The event closed on Sunday with Ektara Collective’s Hindi feature ‘Ek Jagah Pani’. Interspersed between them were some films that reflected various aspects of queer existence, like the 2011 multiple award-winning short film ‘Flamengo Pride’ and a segment of short films by students at SRFTI.
The festival also hosted a reading session with sections from Swiss non-binary novelist and thespian Kim de l’Horizon’s ‘Blutbuch’, as well as the release of a queer-themed Bengali graphic novel ‘Kichhu Goppo Kichhu Kotha’ by four queer writers.
“Dialogues is an important platform for diversity and showcasing independent films,” said Astrid Wege, director of Goethe Institute, which helps in curating and securing rights for the films for the festival.