The Siddhartha Gautam film festival series in eastern India (2003-2012) was inspired by a similar festival series organized by the 'Friends of Siddhartha' group in New Delhi each year from 1993 to 2003.
The series honoured the memory of Siddhartha Gautam, a lawyer and among the early activists who drew attention to HIV/AIDS as a human rights issue in the late 1980s. He was associated with the AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA) activist collective in New Delhi.
ABVA was responsible for bringing out “Less than Gay – A Citizen’s Report on the Status of Homosexuality in India”, the first report (published in 1991) of its kind, Siddhartha was one of the co-authors of this report, along with Arun Bhandari, Dr. P.S. Sahni, Dr. J.P. Jain, Shalini SCN, Jagdish Bhardwaje, and Lalitha S.A. He died of Hodgkin’s’ disease in 1992 at the age of 28.
The festival included feature films, documentaries, music videos and other audio-visual productions. Screenings were interspersed with interaction with the filmmakers, sharing of personal stories and panel discussions on issues around gender, sexuality, same sex relationships, human rights, sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. They aimed to provide an opportunity for dialogue on issues relating to different vulnerable groups, provide a safe space for their members and their allies. The film festival was an entirely non-commercial venture.
For more information on Siddhartha Gautam, read:
Kai Friese, 1993. About Siddhartha: tribute online at https://siddharthagautamdotcom.wordpress.com/page-2/
Ruth Vanitha, 2002. Queering India: Same-Sex Love and Eroticism in Indian Culture and Society. Routledge.
Nivedita Menon (ed). 2007. Sexualities. Women Unlimited.
Naisargi N. Dave. 2012. Queer Activism in India. Duke University Press.