Aim to have inclusive, people-oriented festivals, say Shyam
Mist is a collective, a support group who do not like to go to an NGO for support. We held small events and celebrated festivities. We did a free hugs event on Fergusson College and received quite a good response and also earned volunteers. From here, there was this idea of holding a film festival.Updated: Apr 05, 2018, 17:21 IST
Shyam (Samuel) Konnur, founder and festival director, of the second edition of Out and Loud Pune International Queer Film Festival speaks to Hindustan Times about the event.
How has Pune city responded to the film festival?
Lot of people have called this city to be traditional and conservative. While it may have been the case 10 years ago, things have sure changed a lot now. There is an acceptance for this community here. I wanted to be away from the community and I was depressed that there was nothing at all, no events for the LGBT community. Some organisations were LGBT-friendly but had a lot of rules which felt conservative. It started becoming difficult initially but then I met few friends who stood by me to hold events as a part of Mist to bring a change here.
Mist is a collective, a support group who do not like to go to an NGO for support. We held small events and celebrated festivities. We did a free hugs event on Fergusson College and received quite a good response and also earned volunteers. From here, there was this idea of holding a film festival. We also noticed the enthusiasm people had in travelling to different cities, like Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, to attend queer events and film festivals. Although there was already a queer film festival in Pune, we felt there was a need for a more inclusive and a people-oriented film festival which not only played movies from India but around the world, to create more awareness.
Why call the festival Out and Loud?
We wanted to have a catchy name that no one else has had and there was a book written by a person as well as a film made in Pune by the same name.
What is the most challenging phase of the festival?
The most challenging part of organising the festival is raising funds and getting a venue to conduct the festival. It is difficult to find a venue that will cater to the LGBTQ community, but we have made a number of friends who support us not only during the festival but after that as well. The funding is an issue, but it is all through public fund raising events that we hold through out the year besides supporters and donors.
Besides the film festival, what else is on the anvil?
We don’t just have a film festival but also do a lot of other things. There needs to be a lot of awareness about the community. We have a support group called QTAM (Queer talks and meetings), which is like a peer counselling space. Also, a one-day travelling art festival called Queer and Allied Art Fest.
Any estimate about the LGBTQ population in Pune?
Actual figures are not known. Pune statistics, according to the government, state that it is 13 per cent of Pune population as published in 2013, but this count is only from those who visit the free HIV testing camp. However, there are thousands who go to a private doctor and then there are lesbians also, but there is no specific count.