Kashish Mumbai LGBTQ film festival to begin on May 24 | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Kashish Mumbai LGBTQ film festival to begin on May 24

MUMBAI CITY NEWS: Now in its eighth edition, the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival features 147 films from 45 countries

mumbai Updated: May 27, 2017 10:06 IST
Rachel Lopez
A still from the film Signature Move.
A still from the film Signature Move.(HT)

Putting together South Asia’s biggest LGBTQ film festival is no picnic.

Now in its eighth edition, the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival features 147 films from 45 countries, including Egypt, Iran and Serbia. Crowdfunding helped raise Rs3 lakh to pay for the venue — five days at Liberty Cinema, starting this Wednesday. Discussions on asexuality, LGBT parenting, polygamy and disability are planned.

“Every year we bite our nails, hoping we’ll pull it off,” says festival director Sridhar Rangayan.

While Kashish is India’s first LGBT festival to be held with approval by the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, same-sex relationships have not yet been decriminalised. Kashish struggles for visible support from sponsors. “We have two brands on board this year but what we need is to be able to sustain it in the longer term.”

What Rangayan isn’t worried about is the films themselves. Kashish opens with the American film Signature Move, a tale of Zaynab, an American Muslim hiding two things from her conservative mother Parveen: her budding relationship with a Mexican-American woman, and her fascination with wrestling. This isn’t a sensationalist movie about marginalised Americans, says director Jennifer Reeder. It’s most radical aspect is that it “totally normalises images of Muslims, Mexicans and lesbians”.

Shabana Azmi plays Parveen, a mother obsessed with TV soaps and trying to find the best groom for Zaynab. “We all have families and somewhere in there is melodrama,” says Reeder. “This feels like a very universal struggle for a lot of women who are trying to balance work and family and love life.”

Other films on the programme include White Nights (Malayali with English subtitles), the story of a tribal girl’s desire for a woman and a man; Victim, a 1961 classic from the UK, a revenge tale about queer blackmail and the first film to use the term homosexual; and Only Men Go to the Grave, which follows the unravelling of a dead mother’s secret, and comes from the UAE.

You don’t have to be gay to attend Kashish. About 30% of the audience is made up of straight supporters. Gay or straight, most are loyalists.

The schedule
  • What: Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival
  • When: May 24 to 28
  • Where: Liberty Cinema, Marine Lines, and Alliance Francaise, New Marine Lines
  • Registration and tickets: At the venues

Inderjit Nagi, 36, a fashion designer and creative consultant, first attended five years ago and has returned for every edition since. “There’s cinema, camaraderie and comfort,” he says. He particularly looks forward to the short films. “Their impact is everlasting.”

For Rangayan, the festival is much more than the films. “When I came out in the ’90s, there was a lot of hesitancy and anxiety,” he recalls. “Today a 19-year-old can visit Kashish and find a space free of discrimination; it offers an empowering sense of dignity.”