Bengaluru: For 25 years, the Mumbai - based MAVA - Men Against Violence and Abuse - has been working to engage men and boys to work towards a society free of gender-based violence. MAVA has organised a travelling film festival with the themes of gender, masculinity, sexuality and relationships. After Coimbatore and Delhi, the two festival reached Bengaluru for screenings at Jain University. The festival, called Samabava, is the brainchild of Harish Sadani, co-founder of MAVA. He told NDTV, "Basically we are covering films on gender-based discrimination and gender based violence against women. What are the various forms and which is not talked about, about which people are not aware - like female genital mutilation, practiced among certain communities."
- The festival has reached Bengaluru for screenings at Jain University
- "There are films on homophobia and transphobia," said the founder
- "Which are related to breaking the stereotype," he added
"Then there are films on homophobia and trans-phobia which are related to breaking the stereotype on what it means to be man and woman. But most importantly, my organisation's work is to work with heterosexual boy and men help them break the masculine image which is being passed on and offer gender equal society," he added.
There were discussions after each film. The themes of the films were varied - from a young boy discovering his sexuality, the claiming of public spaces by football-playing girls and women in Mumbai - and on a queer pride match in the new state of Telangana.
Shilok, from the transgender community had come to the festival. She told NDTV, "For the LGBT people, for the queer community we have our space to discuss and to know ourselves and explore things. It is also very important to create such spaces in the heteronormative structure and where we break binaries and show the real cases and the stories of real people that do exist. And specially engaging with the students which is very important. When I was growing up - the experience as a student you face, the kind of bullying and kind of suppression and psychological trauma because of exploring your identity and sexuality. So when we have these spaces and the conversation that we have, we break the barriers in which we are brought up while growing up."
Priyanka, also from the transgender community, said, "Rather then just seeing transgenders as people at the traffic lights, this is one way to directly question transgenders about their doubts, any questions they might have. Instead of just reading books or articles about it, this is the way to directly relate to the transgender people."
Students who attended the festival were moved by what they watched. Prabjyot wished more students had turned up. He said, "We have to talk about sexuality, we have to talk about the entire spectrum. And it is also to understand that we are living in a patriarchal society and we need to come out of it. You know, it is sad that there are not many people here. But the more people come up and attend this kind of film festivals, the more it will be better for everyone."
His college mate Bhumika said, "I am a movie buff, I watch movies all the times. I can say that I am a changed person after watching films from all over the world. The kind of exposure you get, it feels so real. It really reaches into your heart, and Art has always been able to do that and I think films are a wonderful way to reach out a wider audience and get them and really show what it is."
It is often difficult for young people to find safe spaces to discuss sexuality and gender issues. The travelling film festival - Samabhav or Equanimity - is one such space.