British Council announces Digital Pride Festival

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on June 13, 2020

British Council has announced its new initiative #MoreFilmsForFreedom, an international short film commissioning program with the British Film Institute in London and British Council.

The initiative is designed to spark creative relationships between UK filmmakers and counterparts from other countries, the Council mentioned in its official release.

MoreFilmsForFreedom is a global collection of three short films that showcase new filmmaking voices supporting creative collaborations that explore LGBTIQ+ themes.

This will be part of the Digital Pride Festival #prideathome, in partnership with The Queer Muslim Project, which brings together a set of extraordinary voices online from the queer art and cultural scene in India and the UK through film, dance, music, and theatre to discuss and celebrate the spirit of inclusion.

MoreFilmsForFreedom is commissioned by the British Council, BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival and BFI Network. It offers international audiences a chance to watch from their homes a selection of three distinctive queer-themed short films by Syrian, Palestinian and South African filmmakers. The initiative will run from June to September.

Each film explores diverse themes including sexuality and conflict, intergenerational gay culture, migration, and family ties.

While Indian cities celebrate Pride at different times of the year, the Global Pride Month allows for visibility and awareness of LGBTIQ+ issues in India. With Pride events being canceled or postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, organizers around the world are pivoting to virtual mediums to celebrate LGBTIQ+ rights, take digital actions, and demonstrate solidarity.

The Digital Pride Festival has a range of events from 15 to 28 June.

Jonathan Kennedy, British Council Director Arts India, said in an official statement: “In the Covid-19 lockdown, we have all experienced isolation in different ways. During this challenging time, we hope the Digital Pride Festival #prideathome will unify many diverse communities in celebration of LGBTIQ+ arts to celebrate Pride Month and LGBTIQ+ culture in India.”

He added: “The online festival is part of the British Council’s #MoreFilmsForFreedom global project. It’s fabulous to work with such a trusted partner and advocate as The Queer Muslim Project, who bring to the festival an amazing range of artists, voices, and art forms from India and the UK on this digital platform. The British Council is committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion, and foster safe and enabling spaces for creative expression, exchange, and enterprise, these values are imbued in the spirit of the #prideathome digital festival.”

Rafiul Alom Rahman, Founder/Director of The Queer Muslim Project, said in the official release: “The Digital Pride Festival hosted by British Council and The Queer Muslim Project is a celebration of love, equality, and freedom in these times of a global pandemic. Through the #prideathome showcase, we hope to offer LGBTIQ+ persons and allies an opportunity to sit at home and relish the joys of queer art, storytelling, culture, and community all through the month of June.”

Rahman added: As South Asia’s largest virtual network of LGBTIQ+ Muslims and allies, we also recognize the need to center queer artist voices and promote positive, affirming, and intersectional representations of our communities - now, more than ever. And the British Council has been an excellent partner in this regard.”

The Digital Pride Festival events will be held on the British Council India Instagram and Facebook page.

#MoreFilmsForFreedom can be watched on the British Council Arts YouTube Channel.

In addition, as part of the Digital Pride Festival, the British Council’s social media channels will also feature queer art initiatives. This includes Almarii, an archive of South Asian queer closet narrative; the Aravani Art Project, a collective movement working to enable the transgender community through visual arts, socially inclusive experiments, and magic; Dalit Queer Project, a collaborative space for all people Dalit and queer and Veer Misra, a queer artist from Delhi.

Published on June 13, 2020

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