Film Review: Begana @ Glasgow Queer Film Festival 2023

Photo Credit - SQIFF/Konstantinos Korakonero

A collection of four sapphic short films from the South Asian diaspora drew screeds of queer culture vultures to CCA last Wednesday night.

By Rachel Cronin (she/her)

Our collection of shorts began with U for Usha. Set in a rural area of India, a farm labourer is inexplicably drawn to her son’s schoolteacher. An implied attraction that neither women act upon left us deflated but elated at their almost-romance. Beautiful scenery that’s rich with colour contributes to the film’s dreamy atmosphere.

Devi (Goddess) turns the lens onto a forbidden relationship between an angsty teenage lesbian and her family’s maid. When they’re caught together in the kitchen at a family gathering, tradition and attraction are found to collide.

The Booth from director Rohin Raveendran centres another forbidden lesbian affair between a young girl and a security officer at a crowded shopping mall. An obvious age gap and potential power imbalances aren’t fully addressed in the film, rendering it the least favourite of this collection.

In fact, large age differences were noticeable in every one of the chosen short films. It’s unclear whether this pattern is purely coincidental or whether a larger point about power imbalances in gay relationships is being made. Either way, the prevalence of age gaps in every film did become almost jarring.

However, the last film in Begana, although running with the awkward age-gap theme, manages to make it work. My Mother’s Girlfriend explores a relationship between two mature women, under the judgemental eye of one of their sons. Beautifully funny and sweet, this short managed to pull the collection to an overall higher rating.

SQIFF also featured an array of art collections and other screenings at CCA that made for a great week that shone a light on queer culture.