New Delhi [India], April 5 (ANI/ThePRTree): Exploring the themes of gender identity, politics, and sexual expression through the visual arts, Garima Kaul premiered her debut documentary 'Desire?' tackling the subject of asexuality. The film grabbed appreciation in 13 festivals worldwide including the Scottish Queer International Film Festival and Glasgow Short Film Festival.
Asexuality is a term one doesn't often hear at film festivals and screenings. Garima Kaul is a young and upcoming writer-director based in Mumbai who premiered 'Desire?' in 2020. In the attempt to tell the story of individuals who identify themselves as asexuals, the film tries to shed awareness towards this particular orientation of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. It is necessary to depict and let such individuals talk about the problems they face in their daily lives.
Shot in Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai, Garima Kaul's film reveals these individuals' intimate stories and experiences from different parts of the country. They talk about finding love and acceptance in a culture that declares them impotent without a second thought. Her work attempts to navigate the ludicrousness that marks the lives of non-heteronormative asexuals and the lack of understanding, acceptance, and compassion towards them.
Desire?, one of the first films on asexuality from the Indian subcontinent, has earned critical acclaim within a short span of its release. Garima started her filmmaking journey with a student documentary, 'Like Dust, We Rise', which won multiple accolades for showcasing the unjust treatment of manual scavengers and sanitation workers in Mumbai. She has also made a documentary on the conditions of sex workers in Kamathipura, once considered the biggest 'red district' in Asia.
Speaking about what led to the conception and making of Desire? she said, "Asexuality has still not found any representation in the mainstream Indian discourse. I was myself unaware of the term "asexuality" until I met an individual who identified as such and took me through her journey of accepting and verbalizing her identity. She introduced me to a few others from the community. Soon, I found myself surrounded by this community of courageous individuals who wanted their stories to be heard. And I strongly believe that as documentary filmmakers, we often need to pass the mic to people and communities who haven't had the mic for a long time."
Addressing the challenges that a filmmaker faces while making an LGBTQIA+ film, she further added, "While talking about a rainbow orientation which is arguably the least understood one, I wanted to make sure the film remained grounded in its approach to bring up issues and complexities of what it is to be an asexual in India. It also became important for us to bring forth a medical opinion which validates the realities of asexual experiences, so we spoke to doctors who shared insights on the legitimacy of this orientation."
The strong visual language and the powerful montage sequences the film is loaded with are a try to exhibit the ubiquitous nature of sexual imagery in the real world. Coupled with the desire to keep the audience engaged on an aesthetic level, Garima Kaul could be creating a parallel narrative of sexual symbolism, which stands in contrast to the characters' experiences.
This was inspired by the fact that everything around these days is sexualized to extremes. It was an attempt to show the viewer how absurd these things might look to an asexual individual. 'Desire?' therefore attempted to burst the myths around asexuality and create a more empathetic and accepting environment for asexual individuals through their own stories.
The film has opened to glowing reviews and widespread appreciation in 13 festivals worldwide and has travelled to Dharamshala International Film Festival(DIFF), Rajasthan International Film Festival, Long Beach QFilms Festival(California), Scottish Queer International Film Festival(Scotland), Glasgow Short Film Festival(Scotland), Nottingham Arts Mela(UK), Hilltop Film Festival(USA), and Kashish MIQFF(India). It has also received an honourable mention for Gender Sensitivity at DIFF, a Spotlight Silver Award at the Spotlight Documentary Film Awards, L.A.
Watch the trailer for DESIRE? here at https://youtu.be/zv0q6-TOYCw
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