One World International Queer Film Festival, organised by The Humsafar Trust in collaboration with KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival and with support from the U.S. Consulate General Mumbai, was inaugurated on Friday, June 18, 2021. The inaugural edition of the festival, that will showcase the best of American queer cinema, will be held online from June 18-June 20, 2021.
US Consul General in Mumbai David J. Ranz inaugurated the festival at the virtual opening ceremony held on Friday. As a film buff and a witness to social changes over the years, the Consul General Ranz said that he believed that films have been central to our collective efforts in eliminating the discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, increased representation in popular culture has resulted in increased acceptance towards the people from the community in US, he said.
While declaring the festival open, the Consul General recounted how President Barack Obama as well as President Joe Biden had extended support to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in the US and around the world. He also spoke about how movies like Philadelphia, Boys Don't Cry, Brokeback Mountain, Call Me By Your Name and Moonlight have led to an increase in acceptance of the community in the US.
Ranz had a profound message to the youngsters from the LGBTQ+ community, saying, "It gets better." This adage has helped the community in the US in their personal and collective struggles.
“We kick start ONE WORLD International Queer Film Festival with American films this year. And you will realise that the stories of struggle of the queer communities for acceptance is very universal. Every individual, every city, every country has a story to tell. Next year, the focus will be on another country. I sincerely hope that people will actively participate in this film festival," said Suhail Abbasi, co-founder and chairperson of The Humsafar Trust.
The CEO of Humsafar Trust Vivek Raj Anand said the festival aims to acquaint Indians with the struggles of the community from different parts of the world, starting with the US. He believes that irrespective of the location, the issues of the queer people remain the same across the globe. "Pride is not just about success but also about failure; Pride is also a way to protest," he said.
Anand added that efforts will be made to make the festival an annual event, with each edition focusing on a new country and its LGBTQI+ films.
Sridhar Rangayan, festival director of KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, spoke of how cinema has been used as a tool of sensitisation of the issues of the community in the mainstream society.
“This is such a fantastic initiative to bring forth excellent American LGBTQ films to Indian audiences in a curated program of a three-day film festival. KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, as a film festival has always been championing for diversity and inclusion of LGBTQI+ community in the mainstream space through cinema, and we are happy to be collaborating with The Humsafar Trust and U.S. Consulate General Mumbai to bring this wonderful event. The films at the festival address such diverse issues such as acceptance, religion, policies and politics and also intersectionality between disability and queerness. Hope these films act as a harbinger of change in attitudes," Rangayan had said in a statement..
The films that will be screened include award-winning films Gossamer Fields, Bully, Surviving The Silence: The Untold Story Of Two Women In Love Who Helped Change Military Policy, Unsettled and a package of short films.
The festival will also feature two virtual panel discussions. The first panel discussion on June 19 - 'The OTT Era: How digital content is changing LGBTQ narratives', will feature filmmaker and writer Hitesh Kewaliya (Shubh Mangal Saavdhan), content producer Srishti Behl, national award-winning director Neeraj Ghaywan and actor Rudrani Chetri (The Last Color). This session will be moderated by film maker Pradipta Ray
The second panel discussion on June 20 is titled 'How mainstream is the LGBTQ representation in American cinema? Challenges and Achievements', and will feature Alexander Hunt, Vice Consul, US Consulate Mumbai, National award-winning Indian filmmaker Onir, and Lisa Donato (Director – Gossamer Folds) GOSSAMER FOLDS (Festival opening film). This session will be moderated by film maker Sridhar Rangayan.