The Annual Calcutta Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Film & Video Festival, an emerging space to showcase films and allied media of concerning matter to the diverse communities and individuals, made around the world and in India, was scheduled between 19 and 21 November at Max Mueller Bhavan Auditorium.
The festival indeed provides a much-needed venue for independent film and video, dealing with the issue of queer sexualities from India and abroad. Started in 2007, DIALOGUES is a yearly festival, currently in its 4th year.
While the inaugural film was ‘Navarasa’ by ace cinematographer and director Santosh Sivan, the festival also had a very special screening of Amol Palekar’s ‘Dayra’ (The Square Circle). The 1996 film was being screened perhaps for the first time in India at this level. The award winning film, perhaps out for one of the rare public screenings has the late actor Nirmal Pandey (of Bandit Queen fame) who holds an extremely unique record for winning the Best Actor award, at the 1997 France’s Valenciennes Film Festival for his portrayal of a transvestite.
This apart, DIALOGUES will showcased Anders Als Die Andern (Different from Others) by Richard Oswald. It is the first major gay-themed film ever made, and still a work of genuine emotional power. Banned soon after its release in 1919, later burned by the Nazis and believed lost for decades, it only surfaced in a fragmented print found in the Ukraine. The film, painstakingly restored, using newly-discovered film segments, still photos, and intertitles gleaned from documents (including censorship records) found in several different archives, the film has at last achieved its fullest possible form. The film itself emerges, even in this (lovingly) cobbled together form, as striking in its groundbreaking arguments for the dignity and naturalness of gay people. It was co-written by legendary gay-rights pioneer, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, who also has a cameo role. Even more, it comes across as a deeply moving story of two people – two men – who love each other despite the persecution of an intolerant society.