Come April and Mumbai will host its own queer festival. Kashish – Mumbai Queer Film Festival is being organised by Solaris Pictures and Bombay Dost. It intends to showcase and support films with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer themes, relevant to India and indian diaspora.
It also aims to provide filmmakers, artistes, activists, media persons and the audience a space to communicate, share diverse experiences and explore the multiple ways in which 'queer' is interpreted and expressed.
It will also include curated packages of international films, workshops, discussions, a photo exhibition and even interactive games.
The idea for the festival came following the realisation that LGBT cinema in India is still in a nascent stage. It is difficult to make a sensitive and truthful gay or lesbian film within the Bollywood mainstream matrix.
However, in the last few years, there have been interesting voices from filmmakers who are making independent films, shorts or documentaries. Through the festival, the organisers hope to give such budding filmmakers a voice.
Sridhar Rangayan, director of films like The Pink Mirror and Yours Emotionally, who is also the festival director, says, “I can talk and talk about a transgender’s rights being violated, but when I show him or her talk about it personally, in the dark stillness of a movie theatre, the impact is unforgettable. Films could also be used to portray happiness and hope, take you to places and people who you would never see or hear otherwise.”
Incidentally, there has been no queer film festival in Mumbai till now, apart from the one-off screenings held by Bombay Dost and Gay Bombay. Kashish hopes to raise many taboo issues and concerns, along with offering hope and dignity to the LGBT community. “We would like to see films that are sensitive and not negative. They should address LGBT issues, make one think, discuss and debate. Essentially films that will become the catalysts for social change,” says Rangayan.
The films will be selected by an jury comprising professionals from cinema, art, fashion and media, as well as Indian queer community leaders. There are competitive sections with awards for Best Feature, Best Short and Best Documentary. Distribution deals for short films through Glimz, Sweden and Amazon, North America are also on offer, subject to conditions. The screenings and events are free and non-ticketed. However, delegates have to register for the festival in advance.