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Her story

Sonali Gulati's film,I am ,was screened in Pune on July 31 by Open Space,Birds of a Feather & QUEST-Prayatna.

Filmmaker Sonali Gulati on her autobiographical film I am

and why visibility is important for the LGBT community

“ If you would have me weep,you must first of all feel grief yourself.” – Horace

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On the film,I am ‘s website there are plenty of comments praising it’s creativity and honesty. Amongst them a note by Amber Dawn,Director of Programming,Vancouver Queer Film Festival stands out. Dawn in praise of the film maker Sonali Gulati says,“ Without question,at the crux of Sonali Gulati’s film is her ability to personally connect with her interviewees,thus dissolving the barrier between the camera and subject. The result is an intimate heart and thought-provoking documentary about coming out in India.”

Gulati’s film,I am ,was screened in Pune on July 31 by Open Space,Birds of a Feather & QUEST-Prayatna. It is a classic commentary on the lives of the LGBT community in India . Gulati,who is a Associate Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Photography & Film,has tried to tell the story of her life through the film. “ I Am is a feature-length documentary film. The film chronicles my journey of returning to Delhi,eleven years after my mother’s death to not only confront the loss of my mother but also deal with the regret of never having come out to her as a lesbian.”

And though the film is autobiographical in nature,Gulati believes that it does speak to a wider audience. “ Making the leap from my personal story to one that is universal was definitely something I wanted to do. I think that the subject of the film of wanting acceptance and understanding from one’s parent is a universal concept,not just for gay and lesbian people but also for heterosexual people.” The film maker has also been involved in the cause of the LGBT community since 1997,a fact which very well reflects in her film. During the research for I am,the most challenging part was convincing people who were either gays or lesbians to come out and talk on camera. “ It was actually quite easy to find families to talk to. There were many more parents who were willing to be in the film than I could possibly cover in one film. It was convincing their children to be in the film that was the hard part. I wanted to make sure that not just parents spoke in the film,but also queer people spoke for themselves. I really wanted to make sure that they had their own voice heard in the film,that they were seen and heard in the film very directly.”

The film makes a diligent shift from Gulati’s personal history to narrating the lives of others who share the same concerns. But beyond the celluloid world,Gulati feels that society is saturated with images of heterosexuality but gays and lesbians are completely invisible. “When one sees them on TV or newspapers,they are often made fun of or looked upon as “spectacles”. I think it is important that we have that visibility because with it comes acceptance and understanding. Of course with visibility also comes backlash and homophobia but I think in the long run,it is important. Imagine if we lived our lives without the reassurance of seeing one’s self in the mirror? That’s what it feels like when we don’t see our selves represented in the public domain.”

First published on: 01-08-2011 at 02:22:07 am
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