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Bigger, bolder queer film fest

Five-day LGBT film festival Kashish promises cinematic gala with over 120 national and international films, wants to go mainstream this time.

entertainment Updated: May 15, 2011 16:38 IST
Prayag Arora-Desai

In a display of collective strength, Mumbai’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community has come together once again to celebrate their individuality with Kashish-Mumbai International Queer Film Festival. Back to town in its second edition, the fest will kick off on May 25 at Cinemax Versova and Alliance Franscaise. It’s their promise to showcase over 120 films, both Indian and international, that the organisers hope will make the film festival as much of a success as it was last year.

“Our motto is mainstreaming our cause. That is the reason we are holding the festival in a commercial hub. Infact, after last year’s success, this year four multiplexes across the city offered to screen our movies during the festival. I think that is a big achievement for us”, says Vivek Anand, creative director of the festival. Adds Sridhar Rangayan, “We don’t expect the audience to be entirely at ease with the films we are showcasing. What we hope to do by screening films of this sort is not to make the audience uncomfortable, but if they do feel that way, we’d like them to question why exactly the discomfort is arising and how they can resolve it”.

This year, the festival has doubled its seating capacity to avert any circumstance where people may have to be turned away, a problem they had to deal with last time. Also in addition to screening full-length feature films, the organisers have introduced the Kashish Coffee Break Online competition in which 10 short films from all over the world, including four Indians ones, are being made available for online viewing and subsequent voting. The most interesting highlight of this competition is perhaps the Israeli film Ishihara. Autobiographic in nature, the film employs the unique language of Ishihara tests- used for detecting colour blindness- to elucidate a narrative on homosexuality. Other notable feature films include Columbian Undertow, to be screened on opening night and the Indo-American I AM, directed by Sonal Gulati.

Organisers at Kashish admit that they owe a great deal to MAMI Chairman and National Award winner, Shyam Benegal, who has been a “festival patron”. Says Rangayan, “Not only did he help in procuring clearances for the films from various authorities involved but the mere mention of his name and association with us has given a lot of publicity to the cause we have been campaigning for.”