Northwest Film Forum, Seattle – Tuesday, October 20th – 6:30 PM

WALKING THE WALK, Moses Tulasi, 2015, English / Hindi / Telugu, 33min

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Logline: Walking the Walk is a documentary film based on Telangana’s First Queer Swabhimaana Walk.

Synopsis:In India, the LGBTQ movement celebrates its growth and successes with a series of pride marches in various cities and small towns across the country. Unlike parades, these events draw inspiration from India’s anti-casteist and feminist movements, acting not only as celebrations, but also as political protests in which everyone marches and no one is simply a spectator. Like in the west, these marches are also spectacular displays of color, costume, and resilience.

Walking the Walk follows the participants of Hyderabad’s queer pride march in February 2015. The walk draws inspiration from the most recently successful social movement which led to formation of a brand new state in India, Telangana. With it’s unique culture and traditions, Telangana becomes the back drop of the queer pride walk. This film demonstrates how a collective of unfunded individuals embarked on a quest for freedom in organising this pride. It shows how a collective of activists do more than talk the talk; they set into motion a political movement that celebrates small successes, demands resources for working-class transgender people, stands up to police violence, and allows the community to grieve for lost loved ones.

In India, the most visible face to the queer community – the Hijra community – also is the most victimised: rape, violence, discrimination, and even death are motifs of their daily existence. It is the historical leadership of the hijra community who first dared to take on a transphobic, heteropatriarchal society and organize an alternative structure within the context of the Indian LGBT movement. To a lesser degree, the other transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer-identified Indians go through similar ordeals. The film also brings attention to these gruesome acts of violence to raise awareness within the mainstream society.

Walking as a form of protest against discrimination and exclusion has a long history in India. Dr. Ambedkar’s historical Mahad Satyagraha in 1927 protested caste discrimination at one of its fundamental levels: access to water. It was Gandhi’s walk, Salt Satyagraha in 1930 against the unfair salt tax of the British that ignited the people. Since then countless anti caste and anti colonial marches have galvanised the masses to fight for freedom – but these struggles must be kept vitally alive today. It is important to not only fight the British colonial residue in the form of an archaic Sec. 377 (that criminalizes homosexual behaviour) but also to fight the deep rooted stigma in the society and bring it to understand and accept alternate genders and sexualities. A public walk aims to do just that. Queer Indians have learned not to hesitate to talk the talk. This film shows how they also walked the walk.

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Moses Tulasi, a graduate of Computer Science and Engineering worked in corporate America for fourteen years before deciding to pursue his passion for film making. A resident of Chicago, Moses took the first steps by seeking film making classes offered at Chicago Filmmakers.

In the winter of 2014, Moses took a sabbatical from work and traveled to India, tracing his roots back, in search of a socially relevant subject for his first documentary film. Moses was inspired to give a platform to socio-politically charged Queer rights movement in the city of Hyderabad, set against the backdrop of recently successful social movement which led to formation of a brand new state in India, Telangana. This is how the film Walking the Walk, was made.

Director’s Statement: It is a very important and sensitive time for social movements in India. With religious fundamentalism showing it’s ugly head and acts of violence against marginalised communities becoming more prominent, I feel it is a matter of urgency to further radicalise human rights movements. And LGBTQ rights are very much human rights.

My film “Walking the Walk”, through the medium of voices and emotions from Telangana’s first pride walk in Feb 2015, attempts to ask a few hard questions. There are questions posed to the mainstream society, to the state and also to the leaders within the movement across India. In a democratic nation, why do some people have more rights and some less? Is it the society that influences the law or is it the law that influences the society to bring in social changes? If parents have real love towards their children, why aren’t they able to accept their children for who they are? How inclusive is the movement? Are the rights of transgenders’ a matter of tokenism within the LGBT rights movement? Why hasn’t the NALSA judgement been implemented yet? These are a few such questions that need to be answered. In those answers will lie a potential for change.

My film, though Telangana pride, also presents a few opportunities. I believe it is time to strengthen the movement by bringing in intersectionalities between other social movements like the anti-casteist and the feminist movements and thereby mount a larger movement. I believe it is time to take the movement to the working class people and galvanise masses, drawing inspiration from the recent successful movement that led the creation of a brand new state in India – Telangana.

OUR STORY, Anomaa Rajakaruna, 2010, Sinhalese, 50min

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Logline: OUR STORY is about women who love women in Sri Lanka.

Synopsis: Our story is the first documentary produced in Sri Lanka on the lives of women who love women. It grew out of the need to fill a blank space in the public consciousness by presenting to you this constellation of narratives. In this film, women talk to you of struggles and pleasures, of finding themselves and of growing up, of being alone and finding community. Our story gives you a plethora of experiences that make up our lives as women who love women in Sri Lanka.

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Anomaa Rajakaruna is a sociologist with an interest in communication sociology. She holds an MA from the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka and is reading for a MPhil. She is a self taught photographer and she uses different mediums – poetry, film and photography – to express herself. Her skills as a photographer won her the opportunity to work both at the UN conference on women in Beijing in 1995 and the Beijing +5 conference in New York in 2000. She has exhibited the photographic work in solo and group exhibitions locally and internationally. Some of her films which have won awards have been screened at film festivals around the world. She was awarded ‘The Bunka Prize’ for Special Achievement in Photography in 2002 by the Japan-Sri Lanka Friendship Cultural Fund.