Indian AIDS film screens in Dublin
The latest stopover for filmmaker and gay film festival organizer Sridhar Rangayan's 'Queer India' tour is Dublin in Ireland.
Rangayan will screen his film '68 Pages' at the Dublin City University on Dec 3 to commemorate World AIDS Day, which was on Dec 1.
"This is an important event to talk about ground realities in India with regard to HIV/AIDS and marginalized communities. Though '68 Pages' was made five years ago, it is still relevant because many people who come to know they are HIV Positive immediately have this fear that it is the end of their life and they are going to die very soon.
Joy and Sherrin as Kiran and Mohit in '68 Pages'
"The film gives out a strong message that a productive happy long life is possible with treatment and care", said Rangayan from London where he was screening LGBT themed films at several venues.
'68 Pages' is the story of Mansi, a HIV/AIDS counselor and five of her counselees - a young drug user, a female sex worker, a transgender bar dancer, a gay couple and a common man on the street. Using typical Bollywood trope of song, dance and drama, the film tells a powerful story of people who are already marginalized because of their class, profession or their sexuality.
"I've always believed in subverting the popular Bollywood genre to pass on messages. My work, which I call 'Advotainment', is always a synergy of Advocacy and Entertainment", said Rangayan, adding "it helps the audience to identify and relate to the character and story and at the same time take back an understanding of people or issues they didn't know about"
Produced by The Humsafar Trust in association with Solaris Pictures, the film '68 Pages' has already been screened at several film festival across the world and won several awards.
Umrao and Trucker - Uday Sonawane and Ram Awana
Through an unique initiative to reach out, it has also screened at more than 120 grass roots organizations, hospitals, colleges and culture spaces. It has been adopted by National AIDS Control Organization as a resource material for training counselors.
"68 Pages reached out to targeted communities and actively spoke on issues of people living with HIV and AIDS. The film has been used as part of training programmes for counselors working on HIV Projects with marginalized populations and continues to touch a chord each time it is screened", said Vivek Anand, executive producer of 68 Pages.
"I am looking forward to the reaction of Irish audience to the film and also exchange notes about what is the situation of HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ireland. Being a very conservative Catholic country which even criminalizes abortion, I'm interested to know if use of condoms as a means of protection against HIV infection is seen with openness or not", said Rangayan.
This screening is part of Rangayan's Queer India tour of several cities in Europe, screening films from KASHISH film festival and his own films.
"The screening last night at one of Britain's oldest theater in London saw a packed audience on a rainy winter day. The audience was extremely interested and engaged with the LGBT situation in India", said Rangayan, "I am looking forward to a similar response in Dublin". --IBNS