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NHRC Chairperson Justice H.L. Dattu presents Commission's short film awards on Human Rights Day to Father Ernest Rosario, SDB for his film ''Transcender''

By Father Joaquim Fernandes SDB
NHRC Chairperson Justice H.L. Dattu presents Commission`s short film awards on Human Rights Day to Father Ernest Rosario, SDB
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Mumbai, Dec. 13. Mr. Justice H. L. Dattu, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India presented awards to the winners of the Commission's 2019- short film competition on human rights at a function on Human Rights Day on the 10th December, 2019. The awards were given to Mr. Vishal Kumbhar for his film 'Kumbhil Shiva'' which depicts the plight of a child rape victim and her family in getting justice., Father Ernest Rosario SDB for his film ''Transcender'' which focuses on Prithika Yashini, India's first transgender police officer and Mr. Vijeendra Syam for his film ''Gulp'' which focuses on the onslaught of development resulting in loss of natural habitat through the story of an old man. The winners were given Rs 1 lakh, 75 thousand and 50 thousand as the first, second and the third prize respectively along with certificates and trophies.
Justice Dattu  congratulated the Chair of the Jury, Dr. D.M. Mulay, Member, NHRC and his team for short listing 12 films out of more than 80 films after a day long exercise and thus, helping the Full Commission to select the three best films out of them and the four for Special Mention and congratulated all the winners of the film award.

''I was addressing an existential age-old problem of Transgender and receiving the award from the Hon'ble Justice H.L. Dattu, Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission, was uplifting. I felt as though my humble effort to give voice to these voiceless and socially alienated group of people was being amplified to create a mindset change in the minds of the people across the world. A great joy to see the first transgender police officer safeguarding the rights enshrined in the constitution of India and building our nation.'' said Father Ernest Rosario SDB.

Father Ernest Rosario has completed his studies in Information Technology, and an Advanced Diploma in Multimedia Technology, Masters in Film and Television Production from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, USA. He firmly believes that he can positively transform the world through films that address social issues and human rights. At present, he is the Director of the Don Bosco Institute of Communication Arts (DBICA), Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and the Regional Delegate of BOSCOM, South Asia.

Transcender a documentary on Prithika Yashini, India's first transgender police officer written and directed by Father Ernest Rosario, SDB,  was awarded the second prize in the short film competition held by the National Human Rights Commission of India on the occasion of International Human Rights day.

Transcender has already earned international recognition with three official selections; 1. BAFTA Student Awards 2019, Los Angeles 2. Peace on Earth Film Festival, Chicago, 3. Wicked Queer: The Boston LGBT film festival, which is one of the oldest and largest film festivals in the world for LGBT community. This award from NHRC is another feather in the cap for the director and his production team.

Father Ernest Rosario said that transcender as a word will not be found in the dictionary and that he wants to include another word to our vocabulary. According to him the word transcender ''denotes a person who fights against oppressive social norms and taboos and rises above to create a new order.''

He further went on to say that ''according to the 2011 census there were 4.88 lakh transgender persons in India. But according to some estimates, it could well be about two million. In the context of Tamil Nadu, 40,000 transgender people were officially registered while there are thousands who live obscure lives. Disowned by their families they live on the fringes of society, often in poverty, ostracised because of their gender identity.

Most make a living by singing and dancing or by begging and prostitution. It is a known fact that they often face huge discrimination and that sometimes even hospitals and educational institutions refuse to admit them. On 15th April, 2014 in a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India instituted the ''third gender'' status for transgenders. But, that has not in any way changed their life of miseries.''

Documentary short on an issue is not merely a work of art, but a statement and an ideological stand. The Director of 'Transcender', Father Ernest Rosario makes a loud and clear statement, inviting the society to take a stand towards acknowledging, respecting, accepting and celebrating the transgender persons as an integral part of humanity today. As this documentary film envisages, may the cause of the transgender persons be promoted with respect, their unsaid stories be told with understanding and their possible contribution to the society be admitted with responsibility.

The aim of the NHRC Short Film Award Scheme is to encourage and acknowledge cinematic and creative efforts towards the promotion and protection of human rights. This is the fifth year of this competition, which received tremendous response with 88 entries from various parts of the country.

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