The seventh edition of the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival has a lot in store for film aficionados. It will showcase both new and classic LGBT films from around the world. The line-up includes 182 films from 53 countries.
The event will open with the Oscar-winning film, Carol (2015). When asked why an Indian film wasn’t chosen for the opening night, festival director Sridhar Rangayan says, “The makers of such Indian films do not want to open their films at Kashish. Their marketing teams do not want a homosexuality tag even now. There is an upcoming film about homosexuality, but they refused to open at the festival.”
Among the many movies one should look out for at this festival is Daaravtha (The Threshold), a Marathi short film that won the National Award earlier this year. Directed by Nishant Roy Bombarde, it tells the story of an adolescent, Pankaj, who is torn between his patriarchal Indian upbringing and his urge to identify with the opposite gender. Interestingly, the film was given an ‘A’ certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification. “When I got an ‘A’ certificate for my film, I was really shocked. I was told that the film was given the certification because of the subject. But then the National Award was announced… it really was a stepping stone to breaking the shackles of society,” says Bombarde.
Shobana Kumar, founder of Queer Ink and producer of Any Other Day, which will also be screened at the event, says these films aren’t looking for “acceptance or acknowledgement from the government”. “We are working towards [changing] mainstream society. We just want to put these stories out there,” she adds.
The other Indian films to watch out for include I Am Not A He, But She (directed by BS Lingadevaru), Where The Lotus Blooms (directed by Anand Gautam, Geetha K Wilson, Radhika Agarwal, Saurabh Kumar and Shreya Katyayini) and Any Other Day (directed by Srikant Ananthkrishnan and Vikrant Dhote). Bollywood film-maker Hansal Mehta’s National Award-winning release, Aligarh, starring Manoj Bajpayee, will also be screened at the event..
The festival has received a total of 70 submissions from India. “The Indian films we’re showing this year have moved away from angst and identity crisis issues. They are more about the regular life of these people. In fact, there’s one film, called Normalcy, which shows the day-to-day life of a transgender,” says Rangayan.
This year, the biggest highlight is going to be the presence of British actor Ian McKellen, who will inaugurate the festival on May 25. Rangayan hopes the international star will help draw attention to the challenges an event like this faces every year in a country like India. “It is a challenge to host this festival with section 377 still in place. A lot of financial support is required every year. We still need to make it a sustainable festival, where everybody seems involved. After all, this is a festival of the city, and not just of a community,” he says.
The festival will take place from May 25 to May 29, at Liberty Cinema, Alliance Francaise de Bombay, and Max Mueller Bhavan.
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