Indian film finds place in 7th 'Five Films for Freedom'

Varsha Panikar and Saad Nawab directorial uses the former’s work as the basis for a visual, poetic film, capturing four sets of lovers in a sensual celebration of genderless love and desire

Indian film finds place in   7th Five Films for Freedom

British Council brought the seventh edition of 'Five Films For Freedom', world's largest LGBTIQ+ digital campaign. Audiences everywhere were invited to watch the five films online in solidarity with LGBTIQ+ communities in places where freedom and equal rights are limited and to spread the word using the hashtag #FiveFilmsForFreedom.Self-expression, homophobia in rural communities, coming out as a teenager, and finding love later in life - this year's short films looked at an intersection of LGBTIQ+ perspectives to explore love and acceptance.

Broadcasting five brand new LGBTIQ+ films to countries around the world, this year's programme showcased queer storytelling from India, Spain, Sweden, USA and the UK. The festival's short film selection included an Indian film this time. Titled 'Bodies of Desire' and directed by Varsha Panikar and Saad Nawab, the movie uses Panikar's work as the basis for a visual, poetic film capturing four sets of lovers in a sensual celebration of genderless love and desire.

Over 15 million people from more than 200 countries have viewed the Five Films For Freedom programme since its launch in 2015. This continues to include online engagement in countries where homosexuality can be prosecuted and, in some cases, punishable by death.

In India, British Council partnered with The Queer Muslim Project, South Asia's largest virtual network of queer, Muslim and allied individuals, to celebrate and amplify LGBTIQ+ stories, voices and people. This year's programme also featured a community video from one of India's largest youth multimedia platforms, Yuvaa and a podcast on the Five Films For Freedom by Bi Collective Delhi.

In addition, a series of COVID-sensitive community film screenings and curated online or offline engagements were hosted by 10 LGBTIQ+and allied communities, collectives and organizations across India. Varsha Panikar, Director (Bodies of Desire) was part of several community engagements.

At the launch, Jonathan Kennedy, Director Arts India, British Council, said, "The Five Films For Freedom campaign continues to gather a wider audience and deeper engagement with people across the world. We are glad that we have partners with whom we share our purpose of achieving greater inclusion and solidarity for the LGBTIQ+ community. We are excited about an Indian film being part of the lineup this year as it will take the perspective of the Indian LGBTIQ+ individuals to global audiences and connect them with people across borders. The range of emotions across this year's lineup underlines the need for more love and togetherness in the world."

During the event, skill-building workshop with LGBTIQ+ participants from across India and Nepal on using digital storytelling as a tool for creative self-expression and community building.

All films will be available to view till today (March 28) via the British Council Arts YouTube channel.

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