IDSFFK 2017: On day four, a documentary on the plight of the transgender community takes centrestage

A Harikumar

Jun,20 2017 12:27 22 IST

The documentary Avalilekkulla Dooram (The Journey to Her) which talks about the identity crisis and sexual exploitation faced by the transgender community, was one of the highlights of day four of the 10th edition of International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) at Thiruvananthapuram.

Poster of Avalilekkulla Dhooram. Image via Facebook

Poster of Avalilekkulla Dooram. Image via Facebook

Avalilekkulla Dooram tells about the plight of transgender community through the story of a five-member trans family in Kerala. The members — Soorya, Harini, Billu, Miya, Mikha — talk about the problems they face every day, living in Kerala, and open up on what they wish to do with their lives. While Harini migrated to Bengaluru, finding it difficult to live in Kerala without hiding her real identity, Soorya continues to live in the state despite facing adversities.

“Many times, I have been physically attacked while in public places, my dress torn, and I have had to run away. Society does not want to accept me, at the same time, it wants to exploit me sexually,” said Soorya. Harini said she had to face social boycott and people had often refused to even talk to her. Even seemingly simple acts of day-to-day life can be a struggle for transgender people, and the hurdles they face are numerous.

It is a contradiction that Kerala society, which accepted the concept of equality among different 'classes' of human beings long before other parts of the country, has failed to give due recognition to the aspirations of transgender people. The transgender community in Kerala continues to be isolated and exploited.

The director of Avalilekkulla Dooram, P Abhijith, is a news photographer by profession. He had covered the transgender community for almost a decade and his photos on the theme have attracted much attention. His deep awareness of the problems faced by the transgender community makes the documentary exceptional. He said his aim is to bring before society, the plight of transgender people.

Another documentary that attracted attention on day four, was The Poet who Stormed Ember into his Libretto (Malayalam) by Farook Abdul Rahiman. The film is the story of the life of Moyinkutty Vaidyar, one of the most renowned poets of Mappila Pattu, a form of Malayalam poetry which is especially popular among the Muslim community in the state.

The film begins when 70-year-old Kunjali, who is a hardcore fan of Moyinkutty Vaidyar, wakes up from his prayer mat hearing a sound ‘salaam’ (salute) as a revelation from the sky. Thereon, Kunjali begins a journey guided by the voice of the poet. The voice reveals to Kunjali the poet’s birth, childhood, youth and also discusses with him the writings of the poet.

The competition section in the short fiction category also witnessed a few memorable films, including 1869 by Pranav Harihar Sharma, Sex With a Monk and Other Stories by Sounak Kar, Barren Spaces  by Gita Upmale and Let Some Clouds Float In by Mayuresh Gotkhindikar.

The film 1869 is set in a 19th century Victorian hospital in a small town in India during the days of British Raj. The story revolves around three orphan children who set about in search of a missing new-born. Little do they know that they are on a quest to find a piece of history!

Let Some Clouds Float In is about a middle-aged spinster, who is on the verge of losing hope and torments herself in search of relationships that are pure and innocent. But as mid-1990s India undergoes many progressive changes in different areas, she regains hope.

Sex With a Monk and Other Stories traces the story of a boy who moves to Kolkata hoping that all his dreams will come true in the great city. The happenings in day in the boy’s life when he encounters two girls from the city forms the crux of the tale. Meanwhile, Barren Spaces follows a man whose family is split between houses and generations. Each of the family members has their unchangeable ways and share dynamics that shape their daily lives.

Films in the competition section in the animation film category also attracted the audiences' attention. Those screened on day four included Light, directed by Achuth Giri; Shave Off by Arithra Majumdar; The Corporate Culture by Udhayan RM and Raj Narayanan; and In Pieces by Kaushik Mandal and Deepshikha Kapoor.

At noon, a tribute to John Berger was held. The IDSFFK will draw to a close on Tuesday. The winners in different categories will be awarded certificates and cash prizes.